Warning follows chip pan fire

Three off-duty firefighters helped to rescue a man from a flat fire caused by a burning chip pan in Midhurst on Easter Sunday.

It is believed the 21 year old had put the pan on but had then fallen asleep and woke to find the kitchen full of thick smoke. He suffered burns to his arms and legs which are believed to have been caused when he moved the burning pan.

The fire was reported at 9.10pm when smoke was seen pouring from the 2nd floor window of a building used as staff accommodation for the Spread Eagle Hotel.

Staff at the Bricklayers Arms opposite alerted three retained firefighters from Midhurst who were in the pub at the time. The building was locked so they forced open a door at the back of the building and made their way inside. They met the casualty trying to come down the staircase and led him to safety through the front door which by then had been opened with a key thrown to a member of public from inside the flats.

The firefighters put out a small fire in the kitchen with an extinguisher and gave first aid to the man for his burns before the arrival of fire engines from Midhurst and Petworth. The casualty was later taken to hospital by ambulance.

Richard Davy from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service praised the actions of the off-duty firefighters but said the incident also showed the dangers of trying to tackle a burning chip pan.

“It might be a natural reaction to tackle a small fire yourself but chip pans are extremely dangerous if tackled incorrectly.

“The worst thing you can do is put water on it as this will cause a fireball that is likely to engulf you in flame. Don’t try to move a burning pan as this often results in the pan being dropped, causing hot oil to splash everywhere. This not only spreads the fire, it can cause nasty burns.

“Our advice is to try and turn off the cooker if you can do so without putting yourself in danger, close the door, make your way outside to safety, and dial 999.”

Further safety advice is available from your local firefighters or visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire