Man, 78, died in tragic Birkenhead fire likely caused by 'smoker's materials'

Emergency services attended the fire at the ground floor flat Credit: Liverpool Echo

A 78-year-old man died in a tragic fire potentially caused by "smoker's materials", investigators have found.

The man's body was discovered by fire and rescue crews when they searched his flat after extinguishing the blaze in Birkenhead, Wirral, on Monday, 2 May.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has been giving vital fire safety advice and completed checks in the area in response to the incident as more.

The main entrance to the village-style complex in Birkenhead. Credit: Liverpool Echo

Crews on the scene at Laurence Deacon Court on St Anne Street three minutes after they were alerted at 8.45pm.

Three fire engines attended the social housing complex and found a fire in a ground floor apartment.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered under "rapid deployment" and extinguished the fire using hose reel jets.

As firefighters searched the flat, they found the body of the man.

MFRS Area Manager for Prevention Ged Sheridan said: "This was a tragic incident which resulted in the death of an elderly man.

"Our thoughts are with his friends, family and loved ones at this difficult time.

"If you have elderly neighbours or relatives, or if you are a carer looking after someone more vulnerable, please check in on them frequently to make sure they are safe and well and provide fire safety advice regularly.

"Please speak to us in the Fire and Rescue Service if you need additional support. We also urge care support agencies to let us know if they feel someone might be vulnerable from fire – our firefighters and prevention teams help people every day to keep safe in their homes."

Fire and police responded to the tragic incident. Credit: Liverpool Echo

As part of the reassurance campaign, firefighters from Birkenhead, Wallasey, Heswall and Aintree community fire stations and staff from MFRS prevention and protection teams visited the surrounding area in Birkenhead.

Area Manager Sheridan said: "The key focuses of this week’s reassurance campaign are the importance of having a working smoke alarm and to ensure people are aware of the dangers that can arise from smoking in the home.

"We urge the public to ensure their homes have working smoke alarms on every level and to test them at least monthly.

"If you hear a smoke alarm go off in a neighbour’s property, check it out and if you suspect fire, call 999 immediately. Those vital few seconds could help save a life.

"If you do smoke, the safest thing to do is to stop. Fires ignited by cigarettes or smoking materials result in more fatalities than any other type of fire.

"Never smoke in bed, take extra care when you’re tired and make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished."

For people on Merseyside wanting fire safety advice, or if there are no working smoke alarms in their home, help is available on 0800 731 5958.

Tips to keep safe from fire

  • Smoke alarms – smoke alarms save lives but only if they’re working and in the right place. You should have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home. Consider installing additional alarms in rooms with electrical appliances or sleeping areas. Don't put alarms in or near kitchens and bathrooms where smoke or steam could set them off accidentally. NEVER take the batteries out of your smoke alarm to put into another electrical device.

  • Heaters – keep heaters well away from clothes, curtains, furniture and other flammable materials. NEVER use heaters to dry clothes. ALWAYS switch off and unplug your heaters before going to bed.

  • Smoking – Please try not to smoke. Smoking is bad for your health and causes more death from accidental fires than any other cause. If you must smoke, use a proper ashtray and make sure it is placed on a level surface away from combustible materials. Make sure your cigarettes are fully extinguished. Never smoke in bed – you could easily fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and cause a fire.

  • Candles – keep candles and tea lights away from anything that can catch fire. NEVER leave lit candles unattended – make sure they are fully extinguished before leaving the room or going to bed. Consider using LED battery-operated candles instead.

  • Cooking – make it a priority to keep cooking areas clear & clean from combustible materials. Make sure your oven and grill are clean – a build-up of fat or grease can cause a fire. DON’T leave pans unattended while cooking and NEVER leave children or pets unattended in the kitchen.

  • Electrical items – check your electrical appliances are in good working order. If the wires are damaged or frayed, do no not use them. Avoid charging items like mobile phones, laptops or tablets overnight and only use the chargers that came with the device. Don’t overload your plug sockets.

  • Escape routes – make sure everyone in your household knows how to get out in the event of a fire. Ensure your escape routes are clear from any clutter. Keep your external door and window keys in a known and accessible place and close internal doors.

  • Look after elderly and more vulnerable relatives and neighbours. Check they are well, have working smoke alarms and know what to do in the event of a fire.

  • IN AN EMERGENCY, CALL 999 IMMEDIATELY. In the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999.