Alcohol or drugs contributed to almost half of the recent accidental house fires in West Dunbartonshire, it has been revealed.

A householder being impaired by drink or illegal substances was a factor in 48 per cent of accidental house fires in the area from October 1 to December 31 in 2018, according to a new Scottish Fire and Rescue performance report.

These shocking stats are more than double the figure for the same three months in 2017, when only 18 per cent of fires involved someone being adversely affected by toxins.

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Paul Devlin from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service says most of these incidents are connected to intoxicated people leaving food unattended while it’s cooking.

However, he says there has been a continued downward trend in accidental fires across West Dunbartonshire.

He advises people to make a cold snack when they are under the influence of any substance, instead of cooking something on the stove or in the oven.

Paul, the local senior officer for West Dunbartonshire, said: “Accidental dwelling fires can have a devastating impact on the lives of the people involved, and the community as a whole.

“It’s clear the majority of these incidents are linked to cooking, and alcohol can be a contributing factor.

“That is why it is so important that people never leave the kitchen unattended while they are cooking.

“Our message is if you’re feeling hungry after a night out don’t cook, consider buying pre-cooked food or prepare a cold snack instead.”

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The report says that 16 out of 33 accidental house fires in West Dunbartonshire from October to December last year, were related to drugs or alcohol impairment.

The full report will be discussed next Thursday at the council’s community planning meeting

Mr Devlin added that crews have visited dozens of elderly and vulnerable residents homes to carry out fire safety checks.

And as a direct result of this, the number of people harmed by fire has also remained low, alongside a fall in the number of accidental fires.

Mags Mackenzie, chief executive of Dumbarton Area Council on Alcohol (DACA), which helps people with alcohol-related issues, said: “This report illustrates how alcohol misuse can have very wide-ranging health and safety implications for the people of West Dunbartonshire.

“Being intoxicated can affect people’s judgement that they may take risks that they might never do when sober."