Firefighters say use of a disposable barbecue may have been the cause of a fire which damaged the roof of a Georgian building on Fitzroy Street this week.

Fire engines in attendance outside the hotel in Fitzroy Street. Photo: Clive Jennings.

On Wednesday evening the London Fire Brigade (LFB) attend a fire at the Fitzroy Hotel near the junction with Warren Street. The building is in the Fitzroy Square conservation area and is a heritage asset listed as Grade II.

“Six fire engines and around 40 firefighters were called to a fire on the roof of a hotel on Fitzroy Street in Fitzrovia,” said the LFB.

“Half of the roof was damaged by the fire. There were no reports of any injuries.

“The Brigade was called at 19:40 and the fire was under control by 21:30. Fire crews from Euston, Soho, Kentish Town and Paddington fire stations were at the scene. 

“The fire has been recorded as accidental and the cause is believed to be the unsafe use of a disposable barbecue,” said the LFB.

LFB urged the public to use barbecues sensibly this summer. They also issued a warning of a possible spike in fires due to people drinking to excess this coming Saturday as pubs, bars and restaurants reopen for the first time in three months.

Since the lockdown, the number of fires where alcohol was cited as an impairment has dropped by a quarter, they say. Whilst cooking remains a leading cause of alcohol-related fires, there has been a 37 per cent reduction in the number of fires caused by cooking under the influence, which the Brigade believes could be attributed to the closure of London’s pubs.

With around one in three people who died in a fire last year having alcohol in their system, there is a concern that the long-awaited reopening of pubs could result in a sudden surge in devastating fires.

Even at the best of times cooking can be hard to manage and when you have been drinking alcohol the risk of having an accident increases as your coordination decreases. “If you go out for a drink, it’s always best to order a takeaway or eat something that doesn’t involve cooking when you come home,” says the advice from the LFB.

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings, said: “As the lockdown eases, we understand that people are excited for the reopening of pubs, bars and restaurants after months of closure, but we urge you to drink responsibly.

“Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can seriously impair your judgements and can put you at a very real risk of having an accident. With more fires likely to start in the kitchen than any other room in the home, it’s best to stay away from cooking if you’ve had a few drinks.

“If you are heading down to your local pub this weekend, eat before you go out or grab a bite to eat there and save yourself from cooking at home,” he said.

The NHS reported that after drinking just four to six units of alcohol, the equivalent of around just two standard glasses of wine, the part of your brain associated with judgement and decision making is affected, resulting in more reckless behaviour and affecting your reaction time, says the LFB.

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