Skip to main content
Link to Search

Firefighters issue safety warning over viral social media trend after flat fire in Derby

Firefighters have issued a warning over a viral social media trend involving tea lights and terracotta pots following a flat fire in Derby.

Three crews from Kingsway, Nottingham Road and Ascot Drive were called to attend the incident at Prosperity House, Gower Street, at 19:25 hours on Wednesday, 30 November.

The lone occupant was out of the fourth floor property on arrival of Firefighters and around 50 other residents were evacuated.

An investigation has found the fire was caused by the failure of a homemade heater, which used tea lights to heat up terracotta pots.

Tea lights and terracotta pots are being used as part of a dangerous trend which has gone viral on TikTok among those who are looking for alternative ways to heat their homes.

Fire investigator, Station Manager Barclay Masterson, said: “Although these hacks may look like a good way to save money on heating bills, they are very dangerous and we would urge people not to follow the videos posted online.

“Luckily, in this instance, the occupiers witnessed the failure of the homemade device and evacuated the flat safely before calling 999 – but it could have been very different, and I would therefore like to remind everyone of the dangers that DIY heaters pose.

“Candles and tea lights increase the risk of fire in your home and should not be used for anything other than their intended purpose.

“They should be put in heat-resistant holders that hold the candle or tea light firmly and placed on a flat, stable and heat-resistant surface.

“On this occasion, the heat released from the base of the tea lights was enough to weaken the terracotta plates they were placed on, causing the homemade device to collapse and the melted wax to ignite.

“Using tea lights like this could also cause serious burn injuries, not only from the heated terracotta pots but from the naked flames produced.”

Videos showing these type of DIY heaters are being posted across TikTok, encouraging users to make them as a cheap way to heat their home.

Although the occupant of the flat was given the device, she did not know just how dangerous they can be. Hacks like this claim to save you money, but instead you risk your life.

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service strongly discourages people from making or using DIY heaters, especially those which rely on the use of naked flames.

If you must use candles and tea lights for heat or light this winter, follow these safety tips:

  • Never leave candles and tea lights unattended when burning, especially around children or pets
  • Make sure they aren’t burning close to curtains, bedding, clothing or plants which might catch fire
  • Extinguish all candles before going to sleep
  • Place them in a well-ventilated room but away from vents and air currents which may cause rapid flame flare-ups or blow lightweight curtains or papers into the flame
Image of dangerous DIY heater which caused a flat fire in Derby