Solid glass or crystal doorknobs look pretty cool, but it turns out that they can literally set your house on fire if hit by direct sunlight. One family from the UK learned that the hard way last September, when one of their glass doorknobs focused the sun’s rays on nearby clothing, setting them ablaze.
Luckily for Londoner Clare Thomson and her family , who were at home at the time of the fire, a smoke alarm fitted on the property went off before the fire got out of control, and they were able to safely leave the house. “I was amazed at how intense the low September sun could be and I was amazed at how quickly a small fire could take place,” Thompson said. “I would advise people not to buy crystal doorknobs, and I would advise home stores to be aware of the fire risk when stocking. Or, at least, such doorknobs should come with a warning.”
Photo: London Fire Brigade
She’s not wrong about that. After all, the last thing that comes into most people’s minds when considering buying a glass doorknob is “fire hazard”, but according to Charlie Pugsley, head of the London Brigade’s fire investigation team, house fires started by glass and crystal knobs are not that uncommon. “These sort of incidents are not as rare as you would think,” he says. “I’ve seen everything from sparkly doorknobs and crystal balls to glass fish bowls and Nutella jars containing crystals starting fires. Crystal and glass ornaments and items such as shaving mirrors should be kept out of direct sunlight.”
The fire brigade was called at the Thomsons’ house Wendover Road, Willesden, on September 8th, 2016 and firemen were able to confine the blaze to the area of origin and eventually extinguish it. Investigation later revealed that the fire most likely started after a coat was removed from a glass doorknob, which focused sunlight onto nearby clothes, setting them alight.
The incident prompted the London Fire Brigade to warn citizens about the dangers of glass furnishings and doorknobs. They advise everybody to keep concave mirrors and crystal or glass objects away from sunny sills and flammable materials.