A FIRE brigade has defended its campaign to highlight the dangers of smoking-related fires after a council leader said they were not the main threat.
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service issued the warning after an investigation found that a carelessly discarded cigarette probably caused a horrific blaze that claimed the lives of three children and seriously injured their mother.
William Beal, nine, Anthony Hudson, five, and their three-year-old sister, Maddie Hudson, died when a blaze tore through their home in Clarence Avenue, Bridlington, on November 11.
Their mother, Samantha Hudson, 27, remains in a stable condition in hospital.
Mark Rhodes, the brigade's head of operations and community protection, said: "In the past five years we have seen a huge increase in the number of fires which have started through carelessly discarded cigarettes and this is our biggest challenge at the moment. We cannot emphasise enough the need to take greater care with cigarettes."
Mr Rhodes said the number of chip pan fires had fallen dramatically in recent years following a previous campaign.
But Hull Council leader Carl Minns said: "I don't think it's the wrong message but we've got to be careful; the main cause of accidental fires comes overwhelmingly from chip pan fires, the fire authority website shows that.
"I just want people to be aware of the risks. I'm not criticising the brigade. Anything that cuts fire-related deaths will be supported across the board."
There have been 172 cooking-related fires in the brigade area since April last year, although none were fatal. There were six deaths caused by the 64 smoking related fires in the same period.
Assistant chief fire officer Dene Sanders said: "You are three times more likely to have a fire through a cooking accident, but the key message is fires caused by smoking are the ones that kill."