The fire call came in the early morning hours of Monday, July 9. When they arrived, firefighters found the homeowners outside unharmed and thick smoke filling the inside of their single-storey house in Virden.
They had been awakened not by the smell of smoke or the heat of the flames, but by the smoke detector just outside their bedroom door.
Fire Chief Brad Yochim says his crew first searched the main floor for the source of the fire using a thermal imaging camera that reveals hot spots. Then they went to the basement where they found the flames and quickly put them out.
The Fire Commissioner’s Office later determined the fire was caused by a pedestal fan left running in the basement.
Yochim said, “The fire was likely 10 to 15 minutes away from flashing over, which in a short period of time would have made the conditions inside the home not survivable.”
A flashover is when heat builds to the point where everything in the room reaches its ignition temperature resulting in a violent flash of fire.
“Heat conditions can be as high as 1,000 degrees F which is not survivable, even in firefighting protective gear.”
Yochim says the smoke alarms saved two lives that morning.
“I cannot stress enough how important a smoke alarm is. Every home should have at least one on each floor and I suggest one in each bedroom.”
Although electric fans don’t usually cause fires, Yochim advocates turning off or unplugging any electrical appliances not being used.
“We have seen fires started by appliances like coffee makers and space heaters, even de-humidifiers when they are turned off but still plugged in. If you don’t need it, unplug it.”
The Virden home sustained fire damage to contents in the basement and extensive smoke damage throughout the house.