Fire in Gunwharf flats caused by ‘carelessly discarded’ cigarettes

The drawer of cigarette ends that caught on fire. Picture: Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

The drawer of cigarette ends that caught on fire. Picture: Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

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A FIRE in a block of flats in Portsmouth was caused by ‘carelessly discarded’ cigarette ends.

Fire crews from across the city were called to the East Side Plaza, also known as ‘the Lipstick Tower,’ in Gunwharf Quays at around 6am.

A fire had started under a sink in an eighth floor flat after the male resident left cigarette ends in a bathroom drawer, which caused other items under the sink - believed to include cleaning products - to catch alight.

Smoke was discovered on the floor and firefighters in breathing apparatus traced the fire to the bathroom of the flat, where the drawer stuffed with cigarette ends was smouldering.

The firefighters were able to remove the drawer and extinguish the smouldering fire before it spread any further.

Crew manager Scott Yule, from Southsea fire station, said: ‘Cigarette ends had been carelessly discarded in the drawer he had put them in, under a sink.

Fire crews were called to Gunwharf on Friday morning. Picture: Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

Fire crews were called to Gunwharf on Friday morning. Picture: Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

‘It set fire to other bits under the sink, which made it a bigger fire than it would have been.

‘Obviously the alarm went off, but he was in another room. The guy left the building and thought it was nothing to do with him.

‘The fire was confined to a specific area but it gave off quite a bit of smoke.’

While no injuries were caused by the fire and there was just minor smoke damage to the kitchen, the whole of Portsmouth’s fire response was dispatched to Gunwharf.

This included two fire engines and an aerial platform unit from Southsea fire station, two fire engines from Cosham and one from Portchester.

Al Murray, group manager for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, was the officer in charge of the incident and said a more serious incident had only been averted by the smoke alarm.

‘Thankfully the early warning from the alarm allowed the resident to get out of the flat and for us to get to the block and deal with the fire before it spread,’ he said.

‘This starkly illustrates why any smoking materials need to be properly extinguished as this careless disposal could have easily led to a more serious and life-threatening incident.’

Fire crews left the scene at around 7.10am.

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