Discarded cigarette butt sparks fire “several feet high” near shop in Colchester

A discarded cigarette caused the fire. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A discarded cigarette caused the fire. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A fire chief has issued a warning to smokers after a discarded cigarette caused a pile of rubbish to go up in flames.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service was called to the blaze involving a heap of commercial waste, including cardboard boxes, at the rear of a shop in Short Wyre Street, Colchester, just before 9.40am today.

The fire was sparked by a cigarette butt which wasn’t fully stubbed out.

The blaze was extinguished by 10.15am and firefighters prevented smoke from drifting into the shop.

Leading firefighter Kevin Lay, of Colchester Fire Station, said: “This fire shows how important it is to ensure your cigarettes are fully out before you throw them away.

“In this case, there was the added hazard of flammable materials nearby which caused the fire to build so quickly - when we arrived it was several feet high.

“Our crews did extremely well to extinguish it as efficiently as they did and stop it spreading inside the building.”

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The cause of the fire has been recorded as accidental.

Two crews from Colchester attended.

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