Blaze in Colchester high rise block destroys flat sparking chip pan warning

The fire broke out in a block of flats in Caelum Drive. Picture: WILL LODGE

The fire broke out in a block of flats in Caelum Drive. Picture: WILL LODGE - Credit: Archant

Fire chiefs in Essex are warning people about the dangers of cooking with hot oil after a large blaze destroyed a flat in Colchester.

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Six fire engines – two each from Colchester and Clacton, one from Brightlingsea and another from Wivenhoe rushed to Caelum Drive in the town shortly after 8pm.

Multiple calls had come in about the blaze – which started in a fifth floor flat inside a high rise building – from worried residents.

Paramedics were also called and the owner of the flat was taken to hospital after inhaling too much smoke.

Watch manager Stephen Smith said: “The fire started after a pan of oil caught alight and spread to surrounding cupboards.


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“Our crews worked quickly and effectively to stop the fire spreading beyond the kitchen.

“Incidents like this highlight just how important it is to follow our kitchen and cooking safety guidelines.”

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Firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze by 9pm, but the kitchen was badly damaged.

Despite their best efforts the flat is now destroyed, and no longer inhabitable.

Investigators discovered the fire started in a chip pan and was starting to spread to other rooms before crews managed to bring it under control.

Now Mr Smith is urging people to take note of the fire service’s advice about cooking with hot oil.

He added: “Take care when cooking with hot oil – it sets alight easily.

“Make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil so it doesn’t splash.

“If the oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool.

“Use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer, they can’t overheat.

“If your pan catches fire, turn off the heat if it is safe to do so.

“Never throw water over it.”

His remarks come after fire crews in south Essex were scrambled to a ground floor flat in Thorpe Bay – which also started in a chip pan.

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