Dame Joan Collins escapes 'terrifying' fire at London flat

April 14, 2019

Dame Joan Collins has thanked emergency services after a "terrifying" fire broke out in her London flat.

Fire crews were called to a seven-storey building in Eaton Place, Belgravia, at 4.30pm on Saturday.

The blaze was brought under control around an hour later by 10 firefighters, who confirmed on Monday that it had been caused by sunlight striking a mirror and searing a blind.

In posts on social media, Dame Joan shared pictures of walls and a window frame blackened by the flames.

A video posted to Instagram shows the damage to her flat. The actress can be heard saying "Oh God," while surveying the walls.

She thanked London Fire Brigade "from the bottom of my heart" for attending "the terrifying fire yesterday in our flat".

Dame Joan said her "hero Percy [Gibson]", whom she married in 2002, "had already doused the flames consuming the entire wall with handheld extinguisher".

The 85-year-old, who was made a Dame in 2015 for her services to charity, also thanked the ambulance services and police.

She said the ambulance staff took "care of our smoke inhalation" and comforted her, while the police closed the street and "made everyone safe".

Fire crew manager Chucks Abili, who was at the scene, said that fires caused by intense sunlight "are not as rare as you would think and this incident shows that fires can happen in anyone's home".

"Particularly at this time of year, the sun is low in the sky so the concentrated rays can set light to nearby items," he said. "We've seen fires caused by glass doorknobs, jars and bottles on windowsills, and hanging crystals.

"Our advice is to always keep crystals, glass objects and mirrors away from windowsills and out of direct sunlight."

Dynasty star Dame Joan was honoured in 2015 by the Prince of Wales for services to charity, but at the time she said all she wanted to be at the start of her career was a "jobbing actress".

She said: "Not in a billion years did I think I would be made a Dame, it never even crossed my mind.

"It wasn't anything I ever aspired to, I just wanted to be jobbing actress, a working actor and somebody who could still perform.

"I do my one woman show a lot, which I love doing," she said, adding: "But I have a lot of irons in the fire, none of which I can talk about."

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