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Firefighters warn of spike in smoking-related fires

There has been a 20% increase of smoking-related fires in London homes, the city's fire brigade has warned.

Lit cigarette

There were 315 fires between 20 March and 22 July due to cigarettes not being disposed properly, London Fire Brigade said.

It compares to 260 in 2019 during the same period.

Deputy assistant commissioner Charlie Pugsley said: "Lots of people have been working from home and staying indoors more, which might explain why we have seen a spike in smoking-related fires."

On 28 May, four people were rescued and more than 100 residents escaped when a blaze ripped through a block of flats in Hadleigh Close, Bethnal Green.

Investigations revealed the fire was caused by the unsafe disposal of a cigarette.

Mr Pugsley added: "If you can’t quit, it’s always safer to go outside to smoke, but make sure cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly.”

Concerns over 'low mask usage' in Brent

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Brent Council said it cannot force people to wear masks in shops following concerns around people ignoring heath guidance in busy town centres.

It said it has “limited powers” when it comes to enforcing rules associated with Covid-19 and has focused on offering “advice” to residents and businesses on how to stay safe.

Luke Toms, of Harlesden, questioned the council’s approach on social media, suggesting “Covid inspectors” should be doing more.

He pointed out that mask usage is “low” in Harlesden town centre, while many independent shops are “not following” the guidelines put forward by the Government.

Others described High Street, Harlesden and High Road, Kilburn as “busier than Oxford Street” and said it was as if “Covid doesn’t exist” in these areas.

This is despite Brent being one of the worst affected areas in the country, with Harlesden hit particularly hard.

And it comes after Brent Council leader, Cllr Muhammed Butt, issued a plea to residents urging them to be vigilant following a rise in coronavirus cases in the borough.

He explained the area could be put into a second lockdown if trends do not reverse: “I know we all want to get back to doing the things we love. However, we cannot do that if cases continue to rise.

“Let’s not throw away the hard work and sacrifices made by so many of our friends, neighbours and loved ones during lockdown.”