Stockwell Firestarter: cigarette-carrier pigeon was playing with fire, authorities say

BYLINE: Laura Burgoine

A pyromaniac pigeon has come under fire for sparking a blaze in a Stockwell flat last Thursday, March 6.

Fire investigators believe the bird picked up a smouldering cigarette butt and dropped it into a nest in the Landor Road building’s roof, causing it to catch fire.

London Fire Brigade investigation officer Matt Cullen, who examined the scene, said the authorities were initially baffled by the blaze as there were no obvious ignition sources.

“No one had been up to there for a long time and there were no electrics that could have sparked a blaze. We looked everywhere, but the smoking gun was found when we discovered a partially burnt bird’s nest,” he said.

Neighbours told the fire authorities they often saw birds flying in and out of a hole in the roof, Mr Cullen continued. “We believe that one of the birds picked up a cigarette butt that was still smouldering and dropped it into the nest, causing it to catch fire and set the roof alight,” he said.

“The incident is a great example of why it’s important to put your cigarettes out fully – you never know what might become of your smouldering butts! Luckily for the residents, their neighbours saw the smoke and raised the alarm, so fire crews could get in quickly and bring it under control.”

Four fire engines and 21 firefighters and officers went to the fire on Thursday evening; the Brigade was called at 10:23pm and the fire was under control at 12:39am.

The fire damaged around a fifth of the roof area but no one was hurt. Nine people escaped the building before crews arrived.