DEVON and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has warned of the dangers of the silent killer carbon monoxide after an incident at Dunsford on Sunday.

Crews from Moretonhampstead, Danes Castle and Middlemoor went to a cottage in Reedy Hill after neighbours heard a fire alarm sounding in the property.

The firefighters found that a leak in the flue had resulted in smoke and carbon monoxide gas from a woodburner filling the ground floor.

Fortunately, the owner was not in and the crews released a dog, uninjured, from inside the cottage, and vented the home with fresh air.

Danes Castle Fire Station watch manager Lee Blackburn said: ‘Carbon monoxide is the most common form of household poison. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it. CO poisoning can be fatal or cause permanent damage to your health.’

Last year crews in Devon and Somerset attended 47 carbon monoxide incidents, in which three people died, 20 were injured and five were rescued.

The poisoning occurs when any fuel burning appliance has not been properly installed, maintained or is poorly ventilated. This can include boilers, gas fires, central heating systems, water heaters, cookers and open fires.

If the fuel in these appliances does not burn fully, carbon monoxide gas is produced.

The build-up of carbon monoxide can also be the result of: using a barbecue grill or outdoor heater indoors; using cooking appliances for heating; burning fuel in an enclosed or unventilated space; faulty or damaged heating or cooking appliances; heating appliance not maintained or serviced; badly ventilated rooms – sealed windows, no air bricks; blocked chimneys or flues – birds nests, fallen bricks, growing vegetation, bad DIY; poor or improper installation or use of appliances – such as cooking or heating devices; and old appliances that have not been serviced or looked after properly.

Open fires and woodburners also bring an increased risk of a fire if not looked after properly and chimneys not maintained.