Tea Light Fire Sparks Warning

29 December 2010, 17:10 | Updated: 29 December 2010, 17:24

Firefighters have re-issued a warning about the dangers of tea light candles following a fire yesterday morning.

Crews from Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield were called at 7:52am on Tuesday, December 28, to a house in Church Street, Hatfield.

On arrival crews found a small fire in the bathroom. Crews used a hose reel to extinguish the fire and one person received first aid for smoke inhalation. The stop message came in at 8:21am.

The fire was caused by a tea light candle left burning on the top of the toilet cistern. Tea light candles can reach extremely high temperatures - the foil container becomes extremely hot - so if they are placed directly onto a plastic surface, like a television, stereo or even the edge of a bath, the tea light will burn through the plastic very quickly, causing a fire.

The property did not have a working smoke alarm, but luckily residents were awake; they smelled smoke and discovered the fire.

Hatfield Crew Manager, Simon Dredge, said: “I urge residents to take extra care with tea lights, if they are used without a proper, heat resistant container, they can be deadly. Once a fire has started people would be horrified at the speed at which it can take hold of a room. Tea lights are often sold in bags containing hundreds of candles, but safety information isn't printed on the individual tea lights. So if the candles get separated from their original packaging, so does the information about how to use them safely. The residents were very fortunate that they discovered the fire and were able to call the fire service. If you don’t already own one, get a smoke alarm and remember to test it every week. If a fire starts, it could be your only warning!”

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is running an ongoing campaign to provide information about using tea light candles safely. A video has been produced to support the campaign. 


“What's on your TV tonight?" is a short film showing the dangers that tea lights can pose if they are not used with a heat-proof holder.  The film, which is just over a minute long, shows a young man enjoying a beer before falling asleep in front of the television.  The film then shows the blaze started by a tea light which has melted through the plastic television case and set fire to the inside of the set.

Set to a haunting rendition of 'Silent Night' by the Welwyn Garden City choir 'Singing for Pleasure', the video is a sharp reminder of the hazards posed by tea lights during the festive season.

Tea light safety advice includes:

- Always burn tea lights in or on a suitable, non-flammable holder on a heat resistant surface
- Don’t let anything fall into the hot wax, including spent matches
- Never place tea lights directly on plastic surfaces such as TV's, computers or baths
- Never leave a tea light unattended and remember to extinguish before going to sleep
- Ensure candles are stable and cannot be knocked over
- Keep away from draughts or blowing curtains
- Keep tea lights away from children and pets