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‘One death is one too many’: Drugs or alcohol a factor in one in five Dundee house fires

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Drugs or alcohol are suspected of being a factor in as many as one in five house fires in Dundee last year.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives show intoxicants are thought to have played a part in 20% of accidental fires at home across the city in 2019/20.

A total of 175 house fires were recorded in Dundee in that time, with 35 of them said to relate to alcohol or drugs.

A local fire chief said cooking while inebriated is a common fire hazard.

North East MSP Bill Bowman said he was worried the figures could rise further as people spend more time indoors due to lockdown.

In Fife, 13% of house fires are thought to have a drug or alcohol element. In Angus and Perth & Kinross it is 19% and 9% respectively.

Dundee drug-related deaths hit record high as country again sees spike

Mr Bowman urged residents to ensure all fire alarms are working and that electricals and other potentially combustible items are not left on when going to bed.

He said: “More people are confined to their houses at the moment due to lockdown and these figures paint a worrying picture for future incidents.

“It’s extremely concerning to see the large proportion of fires in Dundee with alcohol and drugs being a factor.

“This information shows just how serious the potential link is with alcohol, drugs and lockdown and the consequences these issues can have on the likes of house fires.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service continue to work hard in educating people about the dangers of fire, and how it’s vital not to be complacent and to always be on your guard.”

Area Commander Gordon Pryde , Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Local Senior Officer for Perth, Kinross, Angus and Dundee, said: “One death because of a fire in the home is one too many and the aftermath of a fire can be absolutely devastating for those affected.

“Cooking is the biggest cause of house fires in Scotland and if fire breaks out when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs your response may be impaired. You could have heightened feelings of disorientation, making it difficult for you to escape. We always say if you’ve been drinking alcohol or taking drugs, don’t cook.

“We also reach out to our communities to help us to keep those who are particularly vulnerable safe at home. Our Make the Call campaign encourages people to consider home fire safety when they are checking in on neighbours, patients, friends and family members and to put them in touch with SFRS wherever possible using the free Home Fire Safety phoneline on 0800 0731 999.

“By just taking a few essential steps you can massively reduce the risk of a fire in your house and help keep you and those around you safe.”

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