Warning after sunlight on mirror sparks freak fire in Jersey house

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A HOMEOWNER has warned of the hidden fire hazards in the home after strong sunlight caused a freak blaze in his bedroom.

Paul Acton-Phillips (78) was travelling home on the bus with his wife when he received a call from a neighbour that his house in St Lawrence was on fire.

The sun, which was particularly bright that afternoon, had shone through the bedroom window, reflected off a vanity mirror and set fire to the curtains.

‘We were exceptionally lucky, because our neighbour was walking past our house and called the fire brigade,’ he said.

While Mr Acton-Phillips and his wife ‘endured a very slow bus ride back, without knowing what the damage was or if the fire was out’, the Fire and Rescue Service broke down their front door and got the blaze under control.

He continued: ‘Both the firemen, and the glazier who came around the next day, said that this was not uncommon.’

Mr Acton-Phillips said he now wanted to warn Islanders about the possible fire-hazards in their home.

‘They told us it’s something that happens during the winter, because the sun is lower and can shine directly onto objects such as mirrors and fish tanks which magnify the rays.

‘It’s something that no one ever thinks about until it happens to them.’

He advised Islanders not to have a vanity mirror near the curtains or facing the window.

The Fire and Rescue Service issued a similar warning in 2008 after sunlight being magnified through a fish tank set a bookcase on fire in a St Helier flat.

After a neighbour heard the smoke alarm, they called the emergency services.

The then 84-year-old occupant was out at the time and two cats found inside the property escaped unharmed.

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