Bird sets fire to store

A sparrow is the chief suspect in setting a fire in the United Kingdom that burned down a store.  From the Daily Mail:


When the village store went up in flames, owner Paul Sheriff was at a loss to explain how it had happened.

But eventually a little bird told him the truth.

SparrowInsurance investigators concluded that a sparrow must have picked up a smouldering cigarette butt and deposited it among the dry twigs of its nest under the eaves.

The resulting conflagration caused £250,000 of damage at Crescent Stores in Leasingham, near Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

Initial investigations found no gas or electrical faults, but 35 cigarette ends were eventually found in various sparrows’ nests in the roof.

Mr Sheriff, 48, a non-smoker, said: ‘It’s a pity really because I like seeing birds around the place but to think one of these pesky sparrows took a cigarette end onto the roof and caused all this damage is amazing.

Up in smoke: The blaze caused by the nest-building sparrow caused £250,000 in damage

‘At the end of the day, what is done is done. It’s a busy shop and people jump out of their cars, drop their cigarette ends on the floor and come in to buy a packet of fags.

‘I don’t know whose cigarette end it was but the chances of it being mine are nil. I suppose that’s something.’

Mr Sheriff, who has owned the business for eight years, said he escaped thanks to a customer who alerted him to the fire.

‘I was serving in the shop when he ran in and told me I had to get out because the shop was on fire.

‘The roof had disappeared and the upstairs flat had gone. I’d only just decorated the flat and everything was fine up there.

‘The shop was a total mess. All the suspended ceilings came down, all the electrics were down, all the fridges were broken, it was horrendous.

‘The fire brigade came out but came to no conclusion about how it started.

‘Then the forensic investigator from the insurance company, AXA, told me he had enough evidence to conclude that it was a sparrow that took up a cigarette end into the roof.’

An AXA spokesman said: ‘We believe it’s the first case of its kind we’ve ever had to deal with. We had to bring in a specialist to investigate.

‘I’ve certainly never come across this sort of thing before. It’s strange to think how such a little bird armed with such a small object could cause such chaos.’

Mr Sheriff, who lives with his wife Sharon in a pub they run in the same village, finally cleared up and managed to reopen the shop six weeks after the blaze.

Via @firegeezer

Another bizarre cause of a wildfire

Yesterday Wildfire Today told you about a fire that was caused when two men exchanged a lit cigarette, which ignited…

“aspen cotton fluff floating in the air and started the fire.”

That one was new to me. Floating aspen cotton fluff. Hmmmm.

Now we just heard about another weird cause of a fire.

Investigators are still working on this case, but it appears that a six-acre fire near Tooele, Utah was caused by a flock of birds. I’ve heard of large birds, hawks and eagles, causing fires when their wings touch two powerlines, which completes a circuit, and the flaming bird hits the ground, causing a vegetation fire.

Here is what the power company is thinking in this case:

Margaret Oler, spokesperson for Rocky Mountain Power, said the downed line was a result of a huge flock of European starlings — an 8-9 inch glossy black bird — landing on the lines. When the starlings all took off at the same time, it caused the lines to bounce too close to each other, causing the circuit to open up and cutting off power and causing a neutral line to fall to the ground.

“A neutral line is a line that is not energized,” Oler said.

Rocky Mountain Power isn’t sure that the downed line is the cause of the fire, but is still investigating the incident, according to Oler.

Often when two powerlines touch, hot molten metal falls to the ground and starts a fire. This was the cause of one of the large fires in San Diego County last year.