Fuel horror blaze triggers warning

Simon Connor - Wigan crew commander
Simon Connor - Wigan crew commander
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A MAN was lucky to escape serious injury after accidently setting himself alight pouring petrol over a makeshift bonfire in his backyard.

Fire chiefs today said the 22-year-old was lucky to be alive following the horrific incident at his Thornton Road home in Norley Hall on Sunday afternoon.

The man’s ordeal began when he started gardening work.

He chopped down over-hanging branches and was attempting to start a bonfire by splashing petrol onto a wood pile when flames from the propellant “blew back” on to his clothes.

Emergency services were alerted by relatives who heard the man’s desperate screams for help.

He was rushed to Wigan Infirmary with burns to his face, hands and chest but escaped serious injury.

Wigan station GMFRS green watch crew commander Simon Connor said that the man could have “easily” been very seriously or even fatally injured.

He said: “He had been cutting down branches and doing garden work and had the lot piled up, tried to set fire to it, but couldn’t get it going.

“He decided wrongly to use petrol on it and unfortunately it flashed up his body and gave him burns to the face, hand and slight burns to the chest.

“The injuries were not life-threatening but it could have been an entirely different matter.

“People who set fires to burn waste in their gardens should not under any circumstances use petrol as an accelerant to get it going.

“It is much safer, if you really must, to have a small fire in a proper garden incinerator and take the time to feed it small amounts in a controlled manner.

“But it is a much better idea to take your garden rubbish to the council’s recycling centre at Kirkless and let their specialists deal with it. This man is so lucky to be alive or not looking at injuries he would carry for the rest of his life.

“Thankfully he hasn’t inhaled any of the gases from the fire because although the burns to the outside will mend, the burns on the inside, the doctors, I am afraid, can rarely do anything about.”

Petrol and other fuels give off vapour which are extremely flammable and must therefore be treated with the utmost care.

Storage of fuel at home (unless specifically licensed) is restricted by law to either metal containers with a maximum capacity of 10 litres or approved plastic containers of a maximum five litres capacity.

These containers should be designed for the purpose and must be fitted with a screw cap or closure to prevent leakage of liquid or vapour.

Petrol and diesel fuel should be stored in no more than two 10 litre metal containers or two five litre plastic container, clearly labelled as to their contents.

At home, fuel containers must not be stored in living accommodation such as kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms or under staircases.

Any storage position should be well away from living areas in case of fire and it should be secured, to protect against the possibility of vandalism or arson.