Small candles extremely dangerous, says islander

  • Jan. 4, 2010 12:00 p.m.

Skidegate resident Dick Bellis had a close call with fire last week, and he’s warning all islanders to be extremely careful with “tea light” style candles. Mr. Bellis said he’s been burning tea light candles in a special glass holder shaped like an angel for many years. The candle holder sits in his kitchen and he had never given it a second thought – until Dec. 29. It was his wife Alma’s birthday, and after the last guest had left the celebration at around 10 pm, Mr. Bellis said, he loaded the dishwasher and went to relax in front of the television. He heard a loud “click” a few minutes later but thought it was the dishwasher. Several minutes after that, he smelled the horrible scent of burning plastic. Thinking that his dishwasher must have somehow caught fire, he jumped up and ran into the kitchen, where he found the glass angel in flames, burning two placemats and the wooden kitchen table. He quickly doused the flames, but was amazed at how fast the fire had spread and how hot it was. In just a few minutes, his kitchen table was left with a burn 1/8 inch deep and about three inches in diameter. “The thing burns like napalm,” he said. “If I’d gone to bed, I’d be in hell or heaven right now.” Mr. Bellis, an experienced fire fighter, said his wife was absolutely horrified and both are still shaking from the close call. He thinks the incident might have something to do with the fact that he was using a “gel” type tea light for the first time, but he won’t be burning any more candles of any type. “I want to let everyone know those candles are dangerous,” Mr. Bellis said. “I will never burn another tea light in my house.”