ACCIDENTAL house fires cost taxpayers across Cleveland a staggering £4.2m last year.
Two thirds of the fires, at an expense of £2.75m, were started in the kitchen, according to the latest figures released by Cleveland Fire Brigade.
There were 22 accidental fires at homes in Hartlepool last year, 13 of which started in the kitchen, as reported in the Mail last month.
The blazes in town were a percentage of the 167 accidental fires in homes across Cleveland in 2012, which resulted in the huge expense for taxpayers.
Phil Lancaster, director of community protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “It is amazing to think that last year accidental kitchen fires alone cost the economy of Cleveland £2.75m.
“If we include all accidental house fires that’s £4.2m that could have been saved had people been more cautious and taken more care, particularly in what is classed as the most dangerous room in the house for fires - the kitchen.”
The figures were released during Cleveland Fire Brigade’s month long Kitchen Safety campaign, aiming to get the message across that fires can be prevented and precautions can be taken.
It also comes shortly after Cleveland Fire Support Network organised a week-long programme of activities for Chip Pan Safety Week, trying to hit home the danger of using old fashioned chip pans.
There have been 83 accidental house fires in Hartlepool over the last three years, compared to 116 in Redcar and Cleveland, 165 in Middlesbrough and 197 in Stockton.
The 22 fires in town last year was an increase on the 19 in 2011, but significantly lower than the 42 incidents in 2010.
Phil added: “Nobody thinks that their home is going to catch fire or burn down and people have busy lives, so fire safety sometimes goes down the list of priorities.
“The odds of winning the jackpot on the National Lottery are 14 million to one and most people buy a ticket, the odds of having a fire in your home are 14,000 to one.
“We would urge local people to heed our warnings and to really take notice of our messages.
“Please check your grill pan is clean, chuck out your chip pan if you have one and please, please, please don’t go home and cook after you’ve had a night out drinking.”
People are also urged to make sure all electrical appliances are maintained and advised to never hang materials near heaters or cookers.
Residents can find out more about safety information by visiting www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/kitchen.
To book a home fire safety visit or to get a smoke alarm fitted call (01429) 874063.