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14 June 2018

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The Power of Sunlight

Beware the power of the sun! It could start a fire in your home.

We all know the sun is powerful, but are you aware just how powerful? With a little help from a mirror even a low winter sun can set fire to your home.

“Impossible! Unbelievable! It wouldn’t happen to me!” Sadly, the facts tell a different story.

Recently there has been a spate of house fires reported by fire brigades up and down the country.  These are caused by mirrors or glass objects refracting the sun’s rays onto a piece of material or a flammable object.


How does it happen?

You may remember the problems caused by the Walkie Talkie building in the City of London a few years ago. Its concave mirrored glass walls are curved in such a way that they reflected and focused the sun’s rays onto to objects on the ground. So powerful were the resulting beams that they melted the body panels of parked cars in the street below. Indeed, at the time, the building earned the nickname the Walkie Scorchie!

It’s a short step to the sun’s rays refracting off a vanity mirror or a curved glass ornament by a window and focusing onto curtains or bedding. In one instance in the village of Ashampstead, Berkshire, a low autumn sun shining through a window reflected off a magnifying mirror in the room and onto a pair of curtains setting them alight. This is exactly the type of fire that fire brigades are now recording. Centor has recently dealt with three claims where big fires started in this manner. The damages totalled well over £1m – not to mention the ensuing stress and disruption.


How to protect yourself?

So what do you need to do to protect yourself? This is the advice of the fire brigade:

  • Keep mirrors – particularly magnifying, vanity or bevelled mirrors – out of direct sunlight. These can so easily refract and concentrate rays onto flammable objects.
  • Keep curved glass objects – ornaments, paperweights, vases, fishbowls or anything that can concentrate the sun’s rays – off window sills and out of direct sunlight.
  • Ensure your smoke alarms are regularly checked and maintained, so that if the worst does happen, you’ll get an early warning.


Richard Grainger, Centor’s Director of Broking, comments:

“We all think these things will never happen to us. But sometimes they do. Better to be safe, by taking the recommended precautions, than sorry.”

For more information, get in touch with:
Richard Grainger
0207 330 8705