Warning after TikTok heater-hack fire caused tower block evacuation

Householders are being warned not to use home-made heaters which have gone viral on TikTok after one triggered a flat fire which caused the evacuation of a tower block.

Firefighters from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said crews discovered the heating device when they were called to out to Prosperity House, Gower Street, Derby, at 7.25pm, on November 30.

The brigade said it was lucky the fourth-floor flat’s occupant witnessed the failure of the heater, made of tea lights and terracotta pots, and so was able to quickly raise the alarm.

However, about 50 other residents had to be evacuated while crews dealt with the emergency.

The brigade described the Heath Robinson-esque devices as a “very dangerous” social media trend, as it warned residents against turning to their use as a cheaper alternative, or “hack”, to heating the home.

Station manager Barclay Masterson, of Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Although these hacks may look like a good way to save money on heating bills, they are very dangerous and we would urge people not to follow the videos posted online.

“Luckily, in this instance, the occupiers witnessed the failure of the homemade device and evacuated the flat safely before calling 999 – but it could have been very different, and I would therefore like to remind everyone of the dangers that DIY heaters pose.”

Explaining what had happened, he said: “On this occasion, the heat released from the base of the tea lights was enough to weaken the terracotta plates they were placed on, causing the homemade device to collapse and the melted wax to ignite.”

The female occupant of the flat had been given the device, rather than made it herself, the brigade said.