Charging screwdriver causes Westcott garage fire
A screwdriver left on charge is being blamed for a garage fire which destroyed valuable outdoor equipment and nearly engulfed a classic car.
Firefighters who were called to the blaze in Westcott said an electric screwdriver left charging caused the fire at around 12.50am on Sunday morning (Nov 2).
Property owner Alan Reif, of Coast Hill Lane, who spotted the fire said: "It was like a fireball, it was absolutely blazing in there."
He said he was just heading to bed when he saw the smoke.
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"I just happened to be brushing my teeth and I saw smoke coming across."
Mr Reif said he dashed downstairs to take a closer look at his detached, free-standing garage.
He said: "I could see under the doors it looked like an inferno. I dialled 999, they were fantastic, they were here within five minutes."
He said as he was standing waiting he could hear banging inside the garage as his equipment went up in flames. He managed to move one of his cars, but the second, a friend's 1938 Lagonda was too old to move quickly.
"I got one car out here and the fire brigade arrived and told me to stand clear."
Mr Reif said the fire service put the fire out within minutes, before it reached the Lagonda.
Mr Reif said: "It was a question of timing, if we had not seen it the whole lot would have gone up.
"Because the fire service came so promptly they were able to contain the fire in the lock up.
"It's a friend's car and it's irreplaceable, I'm very pleased they saved that."
Despite losing a wealth of equipment including a petrol tractor mower, a strimmer and power washer, valued at thousands of pounds, Mr Reif is philosophical.
"It's only things, that's the view I take, no one was hurt."
He said he would learn from this and hopes others will too.
"When things are charged up the moral is to unplug it. The heat they give off is surprising.
"You learn from bitter experience so if others can learn from this it would be good."
Dorking fire station watch manager Jon Matthews confirmed they thought the screwdriver on charge was to blame.
He said: "It is the first fire of that type I have attended, it is not something that is that common."
But he added: "Once you have charged your electrical appliance then turn it off, don't leave the charge on. If you turn it off, it can't happen."