By Iona Bain
Scots are being urged to check their homes – and insurance cover – just in case they fall victim to the so-called ‘magnifying glass’ effect.
Just last month, Glasgow entrepreneur Michelle Mone issued a warning to her Twitter followers after a mirror in her Mayfair home beamed sunlight onto a bean bag, setting it alight.
In London in January, novelist Daisy Goodwin came back to find her three-story terraced house gutted by a fire ignited by a shaving mirror.
And last month a house in Twickenham was partially destroyed, and a dog killed, when an empty jar containing hairbands in a girl’s bedroom refracted sunlight onto window blinds.
Last March, Scottish Fire and Rescue Services were called to a house fire in Aberdeen, triggered by the sun shining through a snow globe placed on a windowsill. Watch manager Garry Chalmers said: “It heated the curtains, which then caught fire. The curtains were completely destroyed and there was fire damage to the floor and ceiling.
“This is certainly one of the most unusual causes I have seen during my career as a firefighter, but it highlights the risk of leaving any glass object in direct sunlight, such as mirrors, reading glasses or even drinks glasses.”
The fire service in London has reported 125 such call-outs in the past five years. A spokesman for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service could not give a figure for Scotland but said: “Since 1988 any item containing upholstery sold in the UK has been required to have a permanent label confirming it meets British Standards for fire resistance. If an item of furniture shows signs of being affected by heat – like small scorch-marks or a smell of burning – then it is obviously a risk that shouldn’t be ignored.”