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Half of Shepparton house fires were avoidable

Country Fire Authority has urged Shepparton residents to avoid simple mistakes that can lead to house fires.

JENNA BISHOP July 28, 2014 3:37am

Between 40 and 50 per cent of house fires in Greater Shepparton last year were preventable, the Country Fire Authority says.

The CFA launched a new campaign last week to increase awareness of the thousands of preventable home fires caused by small mistakes each year.

In Greater Shepparton, there were 53 house fires last year.

CFA brigade support officer Paul Verbeek said upwards of 40 to 50 per cent of those fires were preventable.

‘‘Fires caused by unattended cooking is the most preventable by far, and after that, poorly maintained chimneys in winter, and then electrical faults in dishwashers, dryers and washing machines,’’ he said. ‘‘Most of those fires would have been preventable.’’

New statistics show there were 283 preventable home fires in Victoria in June, with two out of five fires starting in the kitchen.

Last year, there were 3559 preventable residential fires in Victoria, causing about $90million in property loss and damage.

CFA deputy chief officer Gavin Thompson said so many house fires were caused by small mistakes in the home which could have been avoided.

‘‘Unattended cooking, smoking, poorly maintained appliances or hanging clothes too close to a heater are all common culprits,’’ he said.

The light-hearted campaign encourages people to make a safe mistake online at www.safemistakezone.com.au and to see how many fires are caused each year by poor use of heaters, poorly-maintained dishwashers, washing machines and dryers and unattended cooking.

It aims to get more Victorians engaged with the critical safety message and to get people thinking differently about fire safety in the home.

Mr Verbeek said people should be aware of residential fire safety all year, not just in winter.

‘‘Create an escape plan with your family; ensure you have working smoke alarms; get out, stay out and dial triple zero (000); and always keep an eye on your cooking,’’ he said.

He said although the campaign was targeted at a specific age range, it was applicable to all people.

‘‘We encourage everyone to have a look at the new website.’’

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