Thatch Fire Causes – Not Chimney Related

Background and chimney related causes

The Thatch Advice Centre happily admit to having a strong interest in preventing thatch fires.  In order to do so, understanding thatch fire causes has been important.  We are impressed with the work done in relation to researching the main causes and are proud to continuing to be involved in understanding and promoting the up to date information.

The main causes of thatch fires are, based on forensic investigation and research, proven to be ejected embers and chimney fires.  A lot of emphasis has been put on to solid fuel burning and stoves but we now know that what and how you burn have been shown to make a big difference in safety.  New solid fuel stoves are much improved on both emissions and consequently fire safety.  We will be bringing you more in this soon.

There are however other causes which are not chimney related which should not be ignored.

Thatch Fire Causes - not chimney related

Unusual and not so unusual thatch fire causes

Thatch fire causes - bonfire

Our associates at Burgoynes (Forensic Investigators) have supplied us with some excellent information on this topic.  In their words “a list of unusual and not so unusual causes of thatch fires seen by Burgoynes and not from chimneys.”

Read down this list to learn more:-

  • Exploding weed wand ignited thatch at the eaves (this is a tool for burning weeds using a gas cartridge).
  • Contractors soldering pipes in a hot water cylinder cupboard
  • Sparks from disc cutting on an adjacent roof.
  • Applying torch-on felt to an adjacent roof.
  • Burning paint off a window frame.
  • Spark from a bonfire.
  • Bonfire spreads to fence, fence spreads to thatch.
  • Kitchen fire comes out of window.
  • Tumble dryer fire comes out of door.
  • Oil-fired boiler fire climbs up the wall to the thatch.
  • Sun on magnifying make-up mirror ignites blind and fire spreads out of window to the thatch.
  • Disgruntled pub customer lights thatch on the way out.  We have seen at least a couple of these, one was at the Old Thatched House in Redbridge, Southampton, now closed.
  • Arson by an intruder who then offered to help as an “off-duty fireman”.
  • Thatch ignited on the back of open backed halogen down lighters in the loft.
  • Squirrel damage to wiring.
  • Thatching work in progress. Thatch on a scaffolding platform ignited by halogen floodlights.

Thatched roof causes - vermin damage to electrics

Summary of these causes

You can see from the above list that:-

  • Halogen lights are definitely a potential problem because they get hot.   Don’t use them close to thatch and reduce that risk.
  • Some are fires caused elsewhere which have sadly spread to the thatch.
  • Use of hot works near thatch is obviously not a good idea!
  • Some of the causes are due to arson (a hard one to advise on).
  • Finally there is vermin and damaging electrics – we would say not just squirrels but rats etc can also be a risk in this regard.

The odd one out.

Arson - cause of thatch fire

The strangest one on the list we were given is where:-

In the course of a domestic dispute, husband ignites thatch when his wife is inside the house!

Hard to know what to say, except that reducing that risk is almost impossible as no one would have necessarily thought of it……. Or had they!

And Finally

Joking aside, this list shows that there are plenty of one-off type causes of thatch fires some of which are sad accidents but some show that application of a little common sense wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Hope you enjoyed the read and it helps you to understand more about the thatch fire causes which are not chimney related so that such instances can be further avoided.

Stay informed and stay safe folks.

For those who have read to the end we wish you a Very Merry Christmas 2021.

Terraced Thatch from the Thatch Advice Centre

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