House fires caused by window air conditioners

Fire in Bothwell. Photo: CKFES.

Chatham-Kent firefighters responded to two fires caused by window air conditioners yesterday.

At around 10:40 p.m. fire crews from Station 12 responded to a report of smoke inside a dwelling on Maynard Line in Harwich.

On arrival, they encountered smoke venting from the roof vents. Crews quickly advanced a hose line to the second floor and extinguished the fire located within the wall and attic. Station 18 (Blenheim) responded to assist.

Fire officials say the fire was caused by a window Air Conditioner being operated on circuit fed by old knob and tube wiring.

Damages have been estimated at $20,000.

At around 11:40 p.m. crews from Station 9 (Bothwell) were dispatched to a report of a house fully involved in fire on Oak Street. At the time of the 911 call, it was confirmed that the sole occupant had self-evacuated from their residence. EMS assessed the elderly occupant on scene and later transport to hospital as a precaution due to being exposed to smoke.

Crews quickly advanced hose lines to prevent the spread of fire to neighbouring structures and then quickly knocked down the fire inside the structure.

Fire officials say the suspected cause was electrical related to the use of a window air conditioner

Damages have been pegged at $120,000.

CKFES released the following education messages:

Smoke alarms save lives. Install working smoke alarms on every storey and outside all sleeping areas and test them monthly. If battery operated, replace the battery twice annually when you change your clocks.

When using portable heaters and air conditioners ensure they are fed from an electrical circuit that is designed to carry the required current to operate these appliances safely. Never use an extension cord to connect these type of appliances. Additionally, it is not recommended to operate high current appliances from circuits that are fed from the older knob and tube style wiring. If you are unsure, consult a qualified electrician.

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