TWO separate families have described the scary moments that followed when they discovered that the sun reflecting off mirrors had set their homes on fire.

Firefighters are asking residents not put glass and reflective items on windowsills after the reflection of sunlight caused fires in two homes within six days.

The first incident saw bedroom curtains catch fire at a home in Cinnamon Lane, Fearnhead, just before 2.30pm on September 9.

Three fire engines were called to the scene, but quick-thinking occupiers Bob and Susan Stephens were able to contain the fire to the bedroom by closing the door and depriving it of oxygen.

Recalling the incident, Bob said: “We were really lucky as it could have been much worse.

“I was working from home on a team call when I heard the fire alarms going off, and when I went down the stairs, there was thick black smoke and the heat instantly hit my face.

“I could see it was coming from the bedroom, so I quickly shut the door and grabbed a duvet cover that was drying on the landing to put it at the bottom of the door.

“A neighbour had heard the smoke alarms and had already made the 999 call, so we got our 16-year-old daughter, Jasmine, and our two dogs and went out outside to wait for the firefighters to arrive.

“The fire was confined to the bedroom with some smoke damage in a couple of other rooms, so we are thankful for that, and I’ve told loads of people about it since as I couldn’t believe how it happened.

“I hope anyone reading this that has a magnifying mirror will now go and move it out of the way of sunlight after reading about our ordeal.”

The second fire occurred on September 14 shortly after 4.30pm in Normans Lane, Higher Whitley, which also involved a mirror and curtains catching fire.

Warrington Guardian:

Ashlee Crook, who lives at the property with her boyfriend and dog Byron, came home from work early to smoke alarms sounding.

She said: “I could smell smoke when I opened the door, and when I went to go upstairs, I could instantly see jet black smoke.

“Thankfully the dog had fled outside already, so I got myself out and dialled 999. I feel so relieved that I came home from work early that day because I can’t imagine how far the fire would have spread otherwise, or if Byron would have been ok.

“I’m not putting the mirror back where it was as I never thought for a minute this would have happened, and neither can anyone else that I’ve spoken to about it.”

Both fires were investigated by Lee McGarity, of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, who says that low sun at this time of year and direct sunlight on mirrors pose a real concern for firefighters.

Even during cold spells, the rays from the sun can be very strong and come in at a low angle.

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He said: “I’m glad that the people and dogs at both these properties are ok and that the damage is minimal in comparison to what it could have been if the fires had not been detected so soon.

“Fires started like this are more common at this time of year when the sun lies quite low in the sky.

“If you have a magnifying mirror or other items containing lenses or glass in your home, please ensure they are not facing the sun or in a place where the sun can reflect from them on to materials or objects.”

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