Sun reflection on mirror nearly causes blaze in Lunenburg County


DAYSPRING - The Dayspring and district volunteer fire department is warning home and business owners about the potential fire hazard mirrors can pose; this after a married couple told the fire chief about a close call in their residence that, if left undiscovered, could have led to a devastating outcome.

In late January, a strange odour alerted the couple to the problem.

"The good thing about it is they were home," Dean Schmeisser, the department's deputy chief, said in a phone interview.

"His wife smelled something burning and they started looking around and when they went up the stairs, (the smell) got stronger and stronger," he said, noting the radiant heat was strong enough to cause a vinyl sash in the window to smoke and melt.

They moved the mirror. There was no visible fire, although, Schmeisser said, "another half hour and there probably would have."

The family sent still images of the situation to the fire department, which posted the pictures online with the objective of raising awareness about safe placement of concave mirrors. "Their bathroom makeup/shaving mirror almost caused a house fire," the fire department said in the Jan. 19 online post.

"Please be aware that concave mirrors ... can be a fire hazard if the concave side is facing direct sunlight," read the message.

"The mirror can magnify the sun's rays and start a fire on any flammable object those rays touch."

"Please keep items like these out of the sunlight or drape a small towel over them when not in use."

The homeowners don't want to be identified, Schmeisser said. They also declined to be interviewed for this story. Schmeisser, who reached out to them at LighthouseNOW's request, said they didn't have any further details to share beyond what the fire department made public.

Schmeisser said firefighters weren't called to the occurrence, nor were they requested to investigate further.

"It's a freak incident," he said. "It can happen to anybody." The mirror was a certain way at a particular time of day when the sun was a specific angle.

In 2017, CTV News published a story about a Toronto resident who said the sun reflected off the makeup mirror in her bedroom and burned a hole in the window sill.

In 2022, the London Fire Brigade in the U.K issued a similar warning warning after sunlight reflecting off mirror caused a fire in a timber window.

"These sorts of fires are not as rare as you would think," reads the news release, posted online. "They can happen all year around ... it's really important that reflective items such as mirrors, crystals and glass ornaments are kept out of direct sunlight."

Schmeisser said the January incident was the first of the type, locally, of which he's been made aware in his 30-plus years in the fire service.

"Just be careful where you put your mirrors; the sun is a powerful thing," he said.

"You just got to be careful where you install your stuff in the house."

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