Firefighters warn against balcony BBQs after Bank Holiday flat fire

Image above: A fire broke out after a barbecue at a flat on Gunnersbury Avenue

Four engines and 25 firefighters needed to tackle blaze

The London Fire Brigade has warned against lighting barbecues on balconies after one caused a fire at a flat on Gunnersbury Avenue on Bank Holiday Monday (29 May).

Four fire engines and around 25 firefighters from Acton, Chiswick, Wembley and Richmond fire stations attended the scene after receiving the first call about the fire on the second floor above a shop at 6.40pm.

It took less than half an hour to get the fire under control and there were no reports of any injuries.

The fire is thought to have started due to a barbecue being lit on an adjacent balcony with embers blowing over the barriers.

Firefighters have warned balcony fires can be devastating as they can easily spread to adjoining properties, potentially leaving people homeless if the fire is serious enough. The Brigade has previously written to manufacturers and retailers highlighting its concerns about barbecues which were being specifically marketed for use on balconies.

BBQ fire “can spread quickly” says LFB

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said:

“Many balconies have combustible materials as part of their construction and there are often combustible items stored in outside spaces so if a fire starts, it can spread quickly.

“Another worry is that wind can fan or carry smouldering ignition sources such as cigarettes and embers from barbecues to lower or adjacent balconies.

“We understand people want to enjoy their outside space if they have it, but please don’t think it won’t happen to you, because it can.

“Don’t be the reason you and your neighbours end up looking for somewhere else to live because of your cigarette or barbecue.”

The Fire Brigade has issued the following advice on how to barbecue safely:

1. Never use a BBQ – including disposables – indoors or on your balcony.
2. Be careful where you position your BBQ – it is suggested to put them on level ground, well away from anything flammable like sheds, fences, trees, or tents.
3. Don’t use petrol, paraffin, or any flammable liquids on your BBQ.
4. Carefully supervise children – little ones can all too easily trip and fall, while older children might hurt themselves trying to help.
5. Be pet-aware – dogs (and some cats!) love to snaffle sausages and can cause accidents getting under your feet. To be really safe, keep pets indoors, or at least out of the immediate vicinity of the BBQ.