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Garden fire insurance claims treble during lockdown

Garden fire insurance claims treble during lockdown as families enjoy more barbecues and turn to burning rubbish because dumps are shut

  • Admiral said number had trebled since 2018, and made up two fifths of claims
  • Authorities have urged Britons to avoid having bonfires during the lockdown
  • Roof on a house in Bolton collapsed after it was damaged by a nearby bonfire 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Insurance giant Admiral has seen claims for garden fires treble as families enjoy barbecues and turn to burning rubbish because the dump is shut during the coronavirus lockdown.

The company said it had seen three times the number of claims for fires caused by barbecues and bonfires compared to the same period in 2018, and that they now make up almost two fifths of all fire claims.

Authorities have urged Britons not to burn waste during the lockdown as it could affect neighbours who are self-isolating, and also be a nuisance to the community.

A roof on a home collapsed, while two others were damaged, after a bonfire of household waste burned out of control in Bolton, Greater Manchester. 

Insurance giant Admiral said it had seen a surge in claims. A home in Bolton, Greater Manchester, lost its roof after a garden bonfire spread up the guttering (pictured)

The roof collapsed and two other properties were damaged in the fire on April 21. The fire was started by someone burning household waste

The company’s head of household underwriting, David Fowkes, said all the good weather had led to a spike in the number of barbecue claims.

‘Even more concerning though,’ he said, ‘is the rise in claims relating to bonfires where they haven’t been controlled, extinguished properly or started too close to other buildings or fences.

‘We think this is down to some people being tempted to burn their garden waste or rubbish because some council waste collections have been disrupted and many tips across the UK are closed.

‘In these cases, it’s all too easy for the wrong items to end up on a bonfire which can cause plumes of acrid smoke or toxic chemicals being released and even explosions.’

Warning Britons not to burn household waste, the chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Roy Wilsher, said outdoor fires can quickly get out of hand.

‘I understand that with people spending more time at home, it is an ideal time to carry out a spring clean or tend to the garden,’ he said.

‘However, outdoor fires can quickly get out of hand, please be responsible and do not burn general waste.

‘Fire services have committed to providing support to other emergency services. Bringing down the number of preventable fires will mean that (we) have more capacity to support the most vulnerable.’

Pictured are firefighters at the scene of the garden fire in Bolton, Greater Manchester

Seven fire engines had to be called to deal with the fire in Bolton on April 21, after a bonfire spread to a nearby shed and fencing.

On the same day officers also attended a fire in Bury, Greater Manchester, where a rubbish fire had spread to the ground, first and second floors of a nearby property.

No one was injured in either blaze. 

Fire fighters were called to a huge blaze in Mangotsfield, Bristol, on April 21 after clouds of smoke left neighbours ‘coughing and unable to breathe’, reports BristolLive.

Essex Fire and Rescue alone said the number of garden fires it was called out to in March doubled compared to the same time last year.

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue also said it had attended double the number of fires in April compared to the same time last year.

The Sharston tip in South Manchester was heaving at 8am this week as refuse centres were opened for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown

Around 100 cars queued around the block in Bolton earlier this week, as a number of councils reopen their tipping centres

Rubbish tips in parts of the UK were re-opened for the first time in six weeks on May 2, triggering lengthy queues as families rushed to dispose of household waste.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said tips could re-open in a ‘staged’ mannger.

‘Obviously don’t abuse it,’ he said, ‘but we know that there’s lots of people with rubbish and recycling and boxes from all those deliveries people are getting piling up in their homes, and it’s right that we manage that and make people’s lives a bit more bearable by getting that out of the house.

‘The longer we delay it, the longer those queues are going to be when the waste sites re-open.’ 

The decision to bring back the tips came after a 300 per cent spike in fly tipping.

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