Fire warning after Britain's first solar panel blaze

Kent firefighters are teaching other brigades how to tackle solar panel blazes after dealing with what is thought to be Britain's first.

Crews from Sittingbourne dealt with a property ablaze, believed to have been caused by one of the energy-efficient generators, earlier this month.

Investigations are still ongoing, but it is thought a faulty DC switch linked to the panels caused the roof fire in Marsh Rise, Kemsley, on March 15.

Now information about how the crew dealt with the fire - believed to be the first sparked by solar panels - will be passed to other fire services to help them deal with similar blazes.

Sittingbourne watch manager Mat Barney said solar panel roof fires are harder to tackle because the sun is a constant light source.

He said: "The roof is traditionally only designed to take the weight of the fount, the batons and the tiles and now we're putting very expensive and heavy glass panels on there, so we've got to look at the load bearing of that roof and the danger it poses to firefighters.

"All the time the sun is shining on those panels, they're live and we've got an issue isolating that in the loft space, so they pose a significant problem for us fighting fires on roofs and inside roof spaces."

Homeowner Iris Harvey, 94, and her 53-year-old son Danny, who has Down's Syndrome, were inside the property when they were alerted to the blaze by a passer-by.

It is understood the panels were fitted to the property a week earlier.

Mrs Harvey and Danny won't be allowed back to their home for at least two months. They are currently staying at Butlins in Bognor Regis.

Source: Kent online

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