Remember when you were a kid and you tried to start a fire using a pair of glasses or a magnifying glass? Maybe you didn’t try it but someone you know did and told you about it. You may have even seen it on a show on TV. Well, we all know it works and the basis of the experiment is that sunlight intensifies when it travels through glass. It may take a long time but a fire will eventually start if the sunlight is reflected onto a combustible material.

During a home safety visit, the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service were installing a smoke alarm in the attic of a house when they noticed a burn mark on some fabric that was near a window. Upon further investigation the Fire and Rescue discovered a glass souvenir that had been acting as a magnifying glass and was scorching the material. This is a good example of a slow but potentially deadly fire waiting to happen. Dave Amiet from the Fire and Rescue Service said “if I had not carried out a Home Safety Visit that day the occupier may have lost the top floor of her house.”

The owner of the house said ‘I was puzzled. At first I wondered whether my daughter had been burning a candle without my knowledge. Then I realised that the scorch marks were only on one layer of the material. It reminded me of using a magnifying glass in the sun to burn holes in paper. I looked at the nearby window sill and realised that there was an upturned glass about 2 feet away from the scorch marks. It dawned on me that the summer sun had been streaming through the window all day long. I asked Dave whether it was possible for the sun to shine through a double glazed window, through the glass and burn the material. He confirmed that this was what must have happened”.

The owner was very thankful to the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service for the visit, advice and new smoke alarms. Asking for this safety inspection was well worth the time and money. Preventing a fire is far better than the alternative and the professionals are the ones to call to ensure your home is fire-safe.