08:00 Saturday 16 February 2013

Fire warning

Written byROB SMYTH

A CAMPAIGN to warn people of the dangers of cooking while wearing loose clothing after a Burton pensioner died when her headscarf caught fire is now set to include all faiths across the town.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service revealed that following the death of 67-year-old Surayya Khan, who suffered severe burns to her head and neck while cooking at her home in Edward Street last September, an investigation found major issues across the entire town in connection with clothing related kitchen fires.

The service has now launched a campaign asking people the question - ‘what is it we can do to change your behaviour to make you safer’.

Dean Stevens, director of prevent and protect, said: “The cause of death was established as an accidental fire in the kitchen with clothes catching fire while cooking.

“We are now set to work with the community with mosques, women’s groups, sewing and cooking classes, to capture wider representation, as the issue was not directly about Muslim clothes, it is about cooking while wearing loose clothing.

“The service is also supplying special aprons in carrier bags to fabric shops in Burton as a means of promoting fire safety but in addition there is a need to highlight the dangers of scarfs and sleeves when cooking.”

Mrs Kahn’s family have worked with the fire service throughout the investigation.

They have joined forces with firefighters to plead with people to be careful and ensure they did not suffer a similar accident.

Rukhsana Khan said: “We were devas- ated by the loss of our mother but if we can prevent other families from going through what we are it will be worth it.

“Saris and headscarves are loose items of clothing which could catch fire if you get too close.

“I would just like to remind people to take extra care in the kitchen and make sure their personal safety is their priority.”

The service has also visited more than 30 homes across the town to offer safety advice following the tragic incident.

It is also considering making more visits to vulnerable people.

Burton Fire Station manager Mick Daniels said: “The Khan family has suffered a terrible tragedy and we want to prevent any similar accidents occurring across the whole of East Staffordshire.

“Many families, not just Asians, follow traditional cooking methods and habits.

“We want to work with these families to see how we can help to keep them safe from accidental fire.”

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