Electricians have warned that dirty and messy kitchens are the top causes of house fires.

The Electrical Safety Council is urging people to take better care of their homes at the end of Electrical Fire Safety Week, which ran from September 23 to 27.

Hertfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service is working with the authority and the government’s Fire Kills campaign, to offer tips for staying safe to people in the county.

Grime fires are the result of dirty and messy kitchens and are caused by the ignition of excess fat in cooking appliances, clutter stored by heat sources catching fire, or by dirt, dust and crumbs blocking ventilation causing foods to overheat.

Last year, 21,036 house fires started in the kitchen and millions have confessed busy lifestyles mean cleaning is not a top priority which puts households at risk.

Roy Wilsher, director of community protection and chief fire officer, said: “It can be hard to stay on top of household chores with busy work and life schedules, particularly for families with young children.

“However, we are regularly called to fires in the home that start in the kitchen, so I would strongly urge everyone to be vigilant to the hidden dangers of dirt and grime.

“We recommend you make time at least once a year to clean out any ventilation systems you use in your kitchen, as well as the space behind fridges and freezers.

“Throughout the year it’s also important to make sure items aren’t stored on top of microwaves, or in front of its vents, as well as ensuring there isn’t a build up of grime in ovens and toasters.”

People concerned about the safety of their kitchen appliances should visit www.hertsdirect.org/business/tradingstandards/news/recalls