Man Engulfed in 'Ball of Fire' in Acton Flat Blaze

Blaze caused by foam from aerosol can






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Witnesses say an Acton man was engulfed in a ball of fire after aerosol foam used to block mouse holes ignited.

London Fire Brigade were called to Mill Hill Road and investigators say he had used eight cans of expanding foam over the previous two days to fill holes and gaps around the skirting boards in his kitchen, but hadn't ventilated the room enough. 

The expanding foam contained a propellant gas, methylene-diphenyl-diisocyanate 4,4’-  that is highly flammable. 

Gas is emitted from the foam as it expands and dries out. The gas is heavier than air, sinks and forms an invisible cloud. It’s thought it ignited when the man switched on his gas cooker.

A witness told fire investigators that the man was ‘engulfed in a ball of fire’ and he suffered burns to his hands and arms that required hospital treatment.

Two fire engines and around 10 firefighters and officers from Acton and Ealing fire stations attended the incident.


London Fire Brigade - Top 3 Tips for expanding foam

• Rooms should be very well ventilated when applying the foam, especially when its being applied in confined spaces, and the ventilation should continue while the foam is curing and hardening.

• Make sure there are no naked flames, such as candles, gas cookers or gas fires in use when the foam is being applied and when it’s curing. 

• Always refer to refer to manufacture’s instructions and safety guidance before starting work.

4th March 2015