A fire that caused damage to a restaurant in Fitzrovia is believed to have been caused by freshly laundered towels folded into a pile and self heating before smouldering and catching fire.
Fire investigators believe the fire within the basement kitchen of the restaurant on Charlotte Place, was the result of self-heating within tea towels and aprons that had been laundered and folded into a pile before the premises closed yesterday evening.
These types of fires often involve textiles that become contaminated with oil, most commonly linseed, massage and cooking oil on tea towels, tablecloths and chef whites.
London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “Sometimes when materials are cleaned, put in tumble dryers and then folded and stacked, the heat from the tumble drying cannot escape. This can result in a high enough temperature allowing it to build up to a point where it smoulders and eventually ignites.
“If you are washing and then drying on a hot cycle, always use the cooling cycle on the tumble dryer so it cools down and allow the heat to dissipate properly, before stacking laundered items together.”
Half of the basement was damaged by fire and there was heavy smoke logging on the ground of the premises. A smoke alarm sounded and residents living in flats above the restaurant self evacuated before the Brigade arrived. The restaurant was closed at the time of the incident and no one was in the premises at the time of the fire. Fortunately no injuries reported.
Soho Watch Manager Glynn Williams who was at the incident said: “On arrival fire crews found the shop window was heavily smoke logged. The restaurant’s automatic fire alarm was sounding. A neighbour initially heard the smoke alarm sounding but dismissed it, eventually the Brigade was called some 40 minutes later. A key lesson from this fire is don’t ignore a smoke alarm, especially if it’s sounded for some time. The delay in calling 999 meant that the damage to the property was made worse.
“Crews wearing breathing apparatus worked extremely efficiently and professionally to extinguish the fire and prevented it from spreading to other parts of the building. Incidents like this show how important it is to have a working fire alarm, acting on the early warning is imperative to prevent injuries and damage to property. Any delay in calling 999 will inevitably have a negative impact on any business.”
The Brigade was called at 2139 and the fire was under control by 2347. Firefighters from Soho, Euston and Paddington fire stations were at the scene.