February 6, 2015 at 11:40 am #36010
Hello everyone! Thought about you all as I started getting ready to head out. It’s dark and 6F outside. Wanted to say a quick hello and remind everyone about the danger of fire.
Shortly after the New Year our little village/area had 3 families experience catastrophic house fires in the space of 10 days. I and members of our group have been busy as one-armed paper-hangers ever since. It has been heart-wrenching and lots of extra work trying to help these families recover from their own SHTF.
One elderly couple in their 80’s, no living relatives (only son killed in Iraq 4 years ago), – house burned to the ground as a result of a chimney fire. They apparently had not had their chimney cleaned for a few years; and, because they found it hard to haul firewood for the stove had been burning nothing but Duraflame/compressed wood logs in the stove (a no-no as they contain lots of wax that builds up in the flu). Lost their 2 dogs as well.
Another elderly couple in their late 70’s lost their home and their barn – were heating with kerosene, filling the heaters in the house. Shaky hands must have caused some spills during filling – peso ignition not working – a match to try and light one and that’s all she wrote.
The last, a couple in their 50’s whose 17 year-old daughter didn’t like to do laundry I suppose and had been throwing her clothes in a pile – against the old baseboard heaters. Poof. Totally destroyed house. Thankfully the father had a large heated shop some distance from the house – that is where they are living for now.
Red Cross had offered 3 days in a hotel for each of these families. certainly not enough.
The group, with the help of the minister of the church the 2 elderly couples go to, were able to convince the 2 elderly couples that perhaps they should join forces and live together, to help each other going forward and they thought that was a wonderful idea. We have razed and cleared off the remains of the one house the couples agreed would be the best place – and with lots of helping hands and coordination, beating the bushes for donations/supplies we started putting in the floor joists for a new one level home for them on Super Bowl Sunday. We have it under cover now – so I am headed out to start the bullet heaters up inside so we can get some work done today – have some people with time. Then it’s a constant, daily round of collecting donated ‘stuff’ these 3 families will need, the basics, to start to rebuild their lives. This will be an ongoing effort for our community for a few more months.
Don’t get complacent friends. Keep your chimneys clean, don’t use Duraflame logs in wood stoves, fill kerosene heaters outdoors, check propane tanks for leaks, keep stuff well away from baseboard and space heaters – you just never know.
I don’t think I’ll get the burnt wood smell out of my nose for some time.
Be well all. Just thought to let you know I haven’t fallen in to a pit! Gotta go – it’s my turn to bring the coffee!February 6, 2015 at 1:50 pm #36012
Tweva glad to see your well. Thought this post might be because of your own loss from the title.
I’d like to chime in.
There are 3 components to fire. Fuel, heat & oxygen. Control all your ignition sources and keep them separated fuel. The majority of residential fires have electrical deficiencies as an ignition source. If you have a poor electrical system/wiring get it fixed.
Use smoke detectors, without them the CO from a fire (carbon monoxide) will put you under and you will never wake up. You will not believe how fast a uncontrolled fire spreads in a house. It just takes a few minutes to involve whole rooms.February 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm #36014
tweva also glad to see you back. I am very sorry to hear that so many fires happen. The elderly couple really hits home since my parents are in there 80’s too and it would be so hard if that happened to them.
Keep your chimneys clean is something many forget to do.February 6, 2015 at 2:40 pm #36015
Bless you tweva and your group/community for helping these people. It reminds us all that there is good in this world. For anyone burning wood, the chimneys need to be cleaned every year. Another important thing is making sure you get the temp up to the “burn zone”. Too low a temp results in creosote build up. Those little stove thermometers give you a good visual in this regard. Only burn seasoned wood, and avoid soft woods like pine, again to minimize creosote buildup. Tile lined chimneys need to be inspected because the tiles can crack over time putting you at risk of a fire. When we bought our present house the inspection surfaced that the tiles were cracked. The sellers had to pay for a new metal liner to be installed at a cost of several thousand dollars.
Of course here I sit talking about fire safety after yesterday’s discussion about gasoline storage……
Stay warm tweva. This morning was the coldest of this winter yet….minus 18, but a front with some snow has already brought it up into single digits above zero in just a few hours. I need to bring wood in today but I’m holding out until it gets into the teens this afternoon. Getting soft in my old age I suppose.February 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm #36016
In 1997 I came close to “burning down the house” with gas leaking from the carburetors of an old motorcycle in the garage/basement. The boom made made think the chimney fell off the house. The fire was so hot it burst a soldered water pipe that acted like a sprinkler system and saved the house.February 6, 2015 at 7:36 pm #36019
Here in Miami, Florida there are not many house fires. When there is one it is big news.February 6, 2015 at 10:53 pm #36025
74, up here when there are house fires it almost always is either from woodstoves, fireplaces, or electrical. Woodstoves and fireplaces are easily understood but how are people supposed to know is they have faulty wiring?February 6, 2015 at 11:17 pm #36026
In South Florida people use there fireplace maybe one week a year so no fires this way. Almost all fires are electrical from old houses with the old fuse electrical panels.February 7, 2015 at 1:21 am #36035
As Freedom stated, old and/or abused. Lots of extension cords, limited number of outlets with added multi plugs. Amateur home owner wiring. Also open boxes, loose outlets and switches.February 7, 2015 at 4:12 am #36042
About three years ago there was a worker cleaning an old house attic and the owner of the house found the worker dead next to a live wire that he when by it and also grounded him self. Some of the old houses just had the wire with no piping. The old wire sometimes loses it’s cover so it is only copper live wire. This can start a fire if it grounds it self and burns into the wood.February 7, 2015 at 12:51 pm #36043
Yes Freedom, the old knob & tube. The insulation has become brittle and breaks off if you bend or move the wire.February 7, 2015 at 2:05 pm #36045
MB, On the how to know if you have faulty wiring? First look at your electric panel see if it is breakers of the old fuses. In the attic look to see if the wires are in pipes or just old black wire on the wooded trust. The old wire is all the same color black, there is no white wire. The old wire is not plastic on the outside, it is like a mix of black plastic with cloth.February 7, 2015 at 6:03 pm #36053
Thanks for the electrical advice. Where my concern was coming from was the former owner of my home (who was not the owner when the house was built) fancied himself an electrician and I know he did a couple really stupid things, but I have no way of knowing what residual stupid things he did that might still be here. One example was he put an indoor outlet at ground level out in the flower beds surrounding the gazebo. I don’t know what it’s purpose was being the gazebo itself had outlets. In conjunction with our renovations, we had Master Electricians replace many outlets that were loose plus replace all of the exterior outlets, and of course they removed that ground level indoor outlet in the flower beds. Close to 100% of the interior and exterior light fixtures were replaced as were all of the appliances except the double oven. A new laundry room was constructed so that was all new wiring. All of the bathroom exhaust fans were replaced. Additional outlets and lights were added in the basement and garage and one of the electrical boxes was replaced with a larger one when the heat pumps were added. All that said, the walls are full of wires going back to the original construction in 1978 & 1987. I don’t know what year it was but the folks who had this place two owners ago would have had some wiring redone in conjunction with the kitchen being rebuilt after a fire. My understanding is that it was grease in the exhaust vent that ignited.February 7, 2015 at 6:35 pm #36066
Some fires do happen because people leave the range on and go out so when they get back there is a fire. Oil in a pan or in an exhaust vent will ignite. Many of the kitchen fires only burn the kitchens.February 8, 2015 at 10:44 am #36085
Great advice. One thing that is really tricky about fire is how often it gets underestimated. There is a sort of tipping point and after that fire spreads so rapidly its something many people don’t know about.
Alea iacta est ("The die has been cast")
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