Sunshine reflecting on a glass wind chime believed to be the bizarre trigger for a serious house fire in Sleaford

A Sleaford man is counting the cost after the downstairs of his home was gutted by fire which investigators believe started in bizarre circumstances.

Boarded up. Tim Sampson's fire damaged home in Queen Street, Sleaford. EMN-190524-175313001
Boarded up. Tim Sampson's fire damaged home in Queen Street, Sleaford. EMN-190524-175313001

A glass wind chime is suspected by experts to have magnified the sun’s rays and ignited the downstairs living room curtains of a Tim Sampson’s terraced house in Queen Street.

The flames quickly spread, gutting the room and causing moderate smoke damage to the rest of the property yesterday morning (Thursday) while Mr Sampson was out.

Mr Sampson, 35, lives alone in the house owned by his mum and explained he was walking his dog in Castlefields when he noticed the smell of smoke. As he reached the end of his street, he could see his home was the source.

The charred doors to the living room which prevented the fire spreading to overtake the whole house in Queen Street, Sleaford. EMN-190524-175247001

He said: “It was pouring up and out of the chimney. I dropped my dog’s lead and ran, with him chasing me to the house. There was already another man outside ringing the fire brigade and the front window had cracked from the heat.

“I ran into the back of the house and grabbed a few things like money and my phone then went into the garage and turned the electric off.”

A neighbour started spraying the house with Tim’s hosepipe while another held onto his dog as three fire crews from Sleaford, Metheringham and Billingborough arrived on scene soon after 10.45am and quickly hosed down the flames before they could spread beyond the living room.

Tim feels very lucky that he had left the doors and windows closed or he could have lost the rest of the house. He said: “Two or three more minutes and the fire would have spread to the next room and the firefighters may have lost the whole house.”

The blackened living room of Tim Sampson's home in Queen Street, Sleaford. EMN-190525-004303001

He was also thankful that all his pets survived - miraculously his pet tarantulas were found safe and well in their glass tanks in the neighbouring room, just fet from the charred living room door. His cat had not been at home.

The heat melted his prized computer full of stored family photos and videos as well as his stereo and music collection. It even warped the copper pipes of the plumbing, he said.

Tim assumed it must have been caused by an electrical fault in his computer or other devices, but the answer was far more simple.

Tim said: “The fire investigator was digging around and found a prism wind chime on the floor. There was a hole where it has burned the curtain which then dropped and burned a hole in the floorboards.”

He was now left with the task of cleaning up and making repairs to the property, planning to sleep in his new fishing tent in the garden to get away from the smell of smoke.

He hoped it served as a warning to others to think carefully what glass ornaments they leave in the sun in their windows, as the firefighters told him they had been to another such incident recently in Sleaford.

The fire service have provided Tim with smoke detectors and leafleted neighbours about the dangers.