AFTER two cooking fires began in Southend in just 12 hours, Essex Fire Service has issued a safety warning.

Both fires were caused by food being unattended during cooking.

The first incident happened on Tuesday, June 11, just before 9pm, at Inverness Avenue, in Westcliff.

Firefighters were called by concerned neighbours to a house full of smoke after a burning pan was left on the hob with nobody home.

Luckily, the property had working smoke alarms which alerted the neighbours to the fire.

When fire crews arrived, they reported the kitchen was heavily smoke logged. Firefighters gained access to the property and removed the burning pan from on top of the hob.

Kim Polley, crew manager at Southend Fire Station, said: "It is thanks to their working smoke alarm that this didn't turn into a really serious and damaging house fire. Working smoke alarms can not only alert the occupants to a fire, but often they alert neighbours and passersby to a fire, and the sooner we are called the less damage that is caused.

"Over 75 per cent of all accidental house fires in Essex start in the kitchen - often because of distractions like phone calls or family. So whatever happens elsewhere in your house, always make sure you don't leave your cooking unattended and check everything is off before your leave your house."

The second incident was during the early hours of June 12, at 2.23am, at Manilla Road, in Southend.

Firefighters were called to a flat in Southend after two large pots of cooking had been left on a hob overnight to "slow cook" but had dried out and caught alight.

The fire caused a lot of smoke which filled the flat and the communal corridor.

Kim Polley, crew manager at Southend Fire Station added: "This was the second incident our crew attended last night which involved cooking being left unattended and causing a fire. In this case, food had been intentionally left on the hob overnight to "slow cook" but this is a very danger method of cooking and we would not advise anyone does this.

"The food dried out, caught fire and produced a lot of smoke.

"We want to remind everyone in Essex of some simple cooking fire safety advice."

Cooking safety advice:

  • Take care if you need to leave the kitchen whilst cooking, take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk
  • Avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob. Keep matches and saucepan handles out of their reach to keep them safe
  • Make sure saucepan handles don’t stick out – so they don’t get knocked off the stove
  • Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – this can easily catch fire
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob
  • Double check the cooker is off when you’ve finished cooking

To arrange a free smoke alarm fitting, call 0300 303 0088 or visit