Two family pets sparked cat-astrophes when they unknowingly turned on hobs with their paws – adding to the list of kitchen blazes tackled by Kent firefighters in January.
In Sittingbourne, on 28 January, Moss the border collie jumped up at a cooker to reach his owner’s leftovers and turned on three gas rings, two of which ignited and set fire to a cushioned tray left on top of the hob.
Thankfully, Kent Fire and Rescue Service had previously visited the property to carry out a Safe and Well visit, and fitted smoke alarms which alerted tenants Jane Hammond-Hawkins and her husband, Ian.
Jane, who was taken to taken to hospital as a precaution for minor smoke inhalation, said: “I just can’t stress enough, do not leave anything on top of your hob. Our kitchen is quite small, so there’s not a lot of space but there’s no excuse.
“Never ever in a million years did I think a dog would set fire to my kitchen.”
Eight-year-old Moss isn’t the only Kent pet to start a fire. In Maidstone, an oblivious cat stepped on the ignition button of a gas cooker at its home in Boughton Monchelsea, which set fire to a tea towel left on top of the stove.
Two fire engines were called to the house in Penfold Gardens on Friday, 24 January, at 12.45am, and crews wearing breathing apparatus extinguished the flames with a hose reel jet.
Two adults and two children managed to escape the property, along with their three dogs and the fire-starting feline. The family-of-four were taken to hospital for precautionary checks for smoke inhalation.
Before leaving the house, the residents were safely able to close the kitchen door, which helped to reduce fire spread and smoke damage to the rest of the house.
In January alone, crews have been called to 100 kitchen-related incidents across Kent, including fires, near misses and false alarms.
Other call-outs have included smoke-logged kitchens caused by burnt food left unattended, used cooking pans being put back on a hot hob and faulty appliances.
Colin King, KFRS Area Manager for Customer Safety and Engagement, said: “Unfortunately, over half of all the fires we attend start in the kitchen. The majority are caused by unattended cooking, a build-up of grease and fat on the cooker, or by kitchen mishaps, where items such as tea towels, chopping boards and washing baskets have been left on the hob.
“You can help to reduce the risk of a fire by following some simple tips; including keeping an eye on your cooking, using a timer to avoid burning your food, never storing or placing household items on your cooker or stove, keeping your appliances clean, and by keeping children and pets well away from your cooking area.”