House fire deaths doubled at start of lockdown, MSPs told

The coronavirus lockdown is a key factor behind the doubling of house fire deaths, Scotland’s chief fire officer has told MSPs.

There has been a rise in the number of deaths from house fires
There has been a rise in the number of deaths from house fires

Sixteen people died in house fires during April, May and June, an increase from eight on the number of deaths in the same period of last year.

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Chief fire officer Martin Blunden and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) chair Kirsty Darwent have said they believe the increased number of deaths is linked to people spending more time at home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The conveners of Holyrood’s justice and police committees said the fire chiefs also told them more could be done to reduce the risk of potentially fatal blazes if the fire brigade is made aware of where vulnerable people are living.

In a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the conveners of those committees – Adam Tomkins and John Finnie – ask for help “overcoming any obstacles in sharing relevant and timely data” with the SFRS.

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