AN investigation into a fatal fire in Wallasey has found the most likely cause was a microwaveable "wheat bag" used to warm the bed.

An elderly woman, named locally as  83-year-old Norma Hickey, died following an intense fire at her home in Village Way in the early hours of Sunday. Smoke alarms alerted neighbours to the blaze.

Wirral district fire chief Paul Murphy said: "Our incident investigation team believe the most likely cause of this fire was as a result of the occupier overheating a wheat bag and placing it in her bed, which has consequently led to a smouldering fire.

"This hypothesis fits with the burn pattern of the fire at the property.

"It appears the lady in this case may have used a wheat bag as a source of heating and warming up her bed."

He said wheat bags heated in microwave ovens are a well-known way of helping bring relief to aching joints and muscles - but they must be used with care.

"A product that absorbs and stores heat in this way is a potential fire risk if not used properly," said Mr Murphy "For this reason it is vital to follow manufacturers’ instructions to avoid possible injury.

"If these products are used incorrectly they can be dangerous and we are urging people to follow advice on their use to reduce the risk of a fire occurring."

Fire crews took part in a major safety campaign in the Wallasey area this morning. They visited 269 properties and carried out 78 home fire safety checks.

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