October 16—A Seattle Fire Investigator has ruled an afternoon fire on Capitol Hill as accidental. The investigator determined the fire was caused by combustible materials stored too close to a baseboard heater.
About 1:15 p.m. a 911 caller reported smoke from the two story home located in the 1700 block of 19th Avenue. Engine Company 25 arrived to find light smoke coming from the roof and flames coming from the bottom floor of the home.
Ladder Company 10 entered the home and found heavy smoke causing zero visibility. Firefighters searched the bottom level of the home and found a man in his 30’s on the ground. Unfortunately, life saving techniques were not able to revive the man and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Within 15 minutes, firefighters were able to extinguish the flames which damaged several rooms on the bottom floor of the home. The fire caused an estimated 90 thousand dollars in damage to the structure of the home and 40 thousand dollars in damage to the contents.
Two residents, who live upstairs, were displaced by the fire. The Red Cross is finding them shelter.
As we enter into the fall and winter months, more people will be turning on their heaters. Each year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates heating equipment fires cause an average of 560 deaths and injure more than 1600 Americans. Heating equipment fires also cause more than 900 million dollars in property damage a year.
The Seattle Fire Department Public Education Unit has some simple safety precautions. Check baseboard heaters often to remove objects that have fallen on top of or near the heater. Remember that any time objects like newspapers, furniture or blankets are close to heaters, a fire can start.
Portable heaters heat up rapidly and, like baseboard heaters, they can easily ignite any flammable item left nearby. Always turn portable heaters off if you leave the room or are going to fall asleep.