Sunrays shining through a glass jar of Nutella chocolate spread sparked a huge house fire that killed a family’s dog, London Fire Brigade (LFB) has said.
The blaze started when low winter sunlight was refracted by the jar which was being used to collect loom bands, investigators believe.
The family’s Jack Russell Chilli was trapped inside the flat in Twickenham, south-west London, and died.
The jar was on the window sill in a girl’s bedroom.
It is thought the rays were magnified by the glass and beamed onto blinds, causing them to catch fire.
A first floor bedroom was destroyed and the roof was damaged.
Declan Murphy, who lived at the wrecked house, said he was out celebrating his anniversary with wife Lindsay and their two children at the time of the blaze on 15 February.
He told Get West London the family were “heartbroken” at the death of the dog, adding: “We’ve been told it will be up to a year before the house is ready for us to move back into.”
The electrical supervisor, 41, added: “I want to ensure other people are aware of the dangers and know to keep glass items away from windows and out of direct sunlight so they don’t have to go through anything like this.”
LFB’s Charlie Pugsley said: “It sounds far fetched that a jar containing a few rubber bands caused a severe house fire but that’s exactly what happened.
“It’s worth spending five minutes checking that your window ledges are clear of any glass or crystal that might lead to a potentially life changing blaze.”
The fire brigade said sun rays have caused 125 fires in the last five years and warned they are a risk in the winter as well as the summer.
Mr Pugsley said the figures show that these sorts of incidents are “not an urban myth”.