Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 3:11pm
Madison firefighters responded to two fires yesterday, one at a downtown two-flat apartment building and one at a near east restaurant. Investigators now say both fires were caused by electrical problems.
Firefighters were called to the 400 block of West Mifflin St. at 3:14 p.m. yesterday afternoon. When Ladder 1 arrived, crews observed smoke coming from the roof. Engine 1 took an aggressive interior attack, bringing the fire under control within minutes of their arrival.
Ladder 1 fought much of the fire from atop the roof, cutting ventilation holes in the roof to let heat and smoke out of the attic space as well as remove additional burning materials in the roofing material.
At least six occupants were displaced by the fire. Only one occupant was home at the time of the fire. He reported smelling smoke and when he went outside, a passerby was already calling 911.
Firefighters were able to move a number of electronics to a protected area in the two apartments to prevent damage. Crews remained on scene to ensure that any remaining hot spots were out and to prevent a possible re-kindle.
At 9:34 p.m. firefighters responded for smoke in a restaurant kitchen at The Spot, 827 East Johnson St. The fire was called in by employees who said they were cleaning the stovetop when they smelled smoke, but could not find the source as it did not appear to be coming from the stove itself. Engine 1 found light smoke in the kitchen area near a stove, and removed the stove from the wall, along with a stainless steel wall covering. Crews found fire in the wall behind drywall. They extinguished the fire and checked for extension, but found none. The hood suppression system on the stove did not activate.
There was heavy charring of the studs in the wall and the interior wood wall, and some wiring was melted. Damages are estimated at $15,000.
No injuries were reported at either incident.
Electrical fires are involved in thousands of reported home structure fires each year. Almost half of home structure electrical fires involve some type of electrical distribution equipment (such as wiring, outlets, switches, lamps, light bulbs, cords, or plugs). The electrical distribution equipment provided the heat leading to ignition.
Aging or outdated wiring may be insufficient for the increasing numbers of electronic products often present in residences. Take care not to overload circuits and stay alert to signs of overheating in outlets and switch plates.
- Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947, firstname.lastname@example.org