SKINT locals trying to save cash on energy bills could be risking burning their house down, according to fire chiefs.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue say rising energy costs mean that people are resorting to using electric heaters, open fires and candles after prices of gas and electricity rocketed 20 per cent in the last year. But the service says in the last six months it has been called to 23 house fires which were caused by heaters, open fires and candles or naked flames - and there is a worry that number could rocket as it gets older.

Diane Malpass, Station Manager in Community Safety, said: “The number of house fires we attend continues to fall steadily every year. But as colder weather returns in the autumn months, we traditionally see a seasonal increase in certain types of incident, such as chimney fires or accidental blazes started by candles, heaters or unsafe electrical appliances.

“Just asking yourself a few simple questions about the safety of the equipment before switching it on, might be enough to protect you and your family from a serious fire. And where electrical items are concerned, remembering to switch them off after use and before you go to bed is one of the surest ways of ensuring they don’t become a fire risk.”