UPDATE: Cigarette blamed for North Bersted fire

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FIREFIGHTERS are urging people to put their cigarettes out properly after a man was led to safety from his ground-floor flat in North Bersted today (Friday, December 5).

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service was called to the three-storey block of flats at Bersted Green Court on Durlston Drive at 8.12am after a cigarette left unextinguished set light to a sofa causing extensive damage to the ground-floor flat.

The inside of the flat after the fire Picture by Paul Archer

The inside of the flat after the fire Picture by Paul Archer

A spokesman for the fire service said: “Fortunately, the flat was protected by a Careline System with a specially-linked smoke alarm.

“This meant that an operator at a 24-hour monitoring centre was automatically alerted to the fire and could place the emergency 999 call to the fire service.

“A fire crew from Bognor was at the scene within five minutes of the alarm being raised and additional crews from Bognor and Chichester were also called to assist.

“Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the heavily smoke-logged flat and helped the occupier, who was in his bathroom at the time the fire started, out to fresh air and safety.

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze at Bersted Green Court

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze at Bersted Green Court

“Occupants of the other ground-floor flats were all safely evacuated and the fire was quickly extinguished by the crews using a hose reel.

“The occupier of the affected flat, a man in his late 60s, was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.”

Smoking is the biggest killer in accidental fires in the home.

In the last two years in West Sussex, two thirds of all fatal house fires have been smoking related.

Incident commander Jon Etherington, said: “The most important piece of advice we can offer to smokers is to make sure you use an ashtray and extinguish your cigarettes fully when you have finished smoking.

“It only takes a few moments for a fire to start.

“The early alert received through the Careline system made a big difference in this incident.

“For most people, a standard smoke alarm gives them the protection they need, however, some residents need a little extra assistance, those who have mobility problems or perhaps a disability which means they can’t make such an easy escape.

“That’s why we continue to work with our partners, including telecare providers, to make sure that we are prioritising those elderly or vulnerable people who would benefit most from our home fire safety check service and the specialist smoke alarms we can fit.”


West Sussex Fire & Rescue offer the following simple safety advice to smokers:

Stub out cigarettes properly and dispose of them carefully;

Use a proper ashtray – never a wastepaper basket;

Make sure your ashtray can’t tip over and is made of material that won’t burn;

Take extra care when you are tired, have been drinking alcohol or taking medication that can make you drowsy – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning;

Don’t smoke in bed – if you need a lie down, don’t light up. It’s too easy to doze and for bedding to catch light.

Man rescued from North Bersted flat fire