Bathroom exhaust fan cause of July 4 fire

Pat Fulton photo
Firefighters respond to a fire at a Roanoke Trail home the night of July 4.

Cinthia Stimson

A bathroom exhaust fan is the apparent cause of a fire that broke out about 11:45 p.m. July 4 at an unoccupied residence at 156 Roanoke Trail in Glenrock, according to State Fire Investigator Richard Embrey, of the State Fire Marshal’s office in Sheridan.
While the home was empty at the time of the fire, the names of the dwelling’s residents are being withheld pending release of the official fire investigation report, acting Glenrock Fire Chief Rob Brewer stated.
“It should be released sometime later this week or next week,” he said.
Embrey said investigation into the incident has indicated that it looks like the fire started in the home’s bathroom exhaust fan.
“Inside of an exhaust fan is a device called a thermal cutoff switch. If it fails, the windings in the motor will overheat,” Embrey explained. “Temperatures will then continue to rise until flaming combustion occurs. It’ll smoulder for a period of time, then develop into a fire.”
The residence’s renters reported that the fan had quit earlier in the day, around 6:30 p.m., “almost six hours before the fire started,” Embrey said.
“The cause of the fire was accidental, it’s nothing that anyone did. The structure is old, built in the 70s. It was an unfortunate event,” Embrey said.
A good samaritan driving by the home saw smoke coming from the building’s eve and called it in.
The Glenrock Volunteer Fire Department responded immediately  with 15 firefighters on the scene. They had the fire extinguished by approximately 12:30 a.m. the morning of July 5, Brewer said.
There’s a few things people can do to possibly prevent similar home fires.
“People need to clean their  exhaust fans in their houses routinely. Clean out all of the lint and dust that accumulates on the motor. That will help prolong the life of the fan and prevent fires. And, if your fan is over 10 years old, you might want to consider replacing it,” Embrey recommended.
He also said that if people have “blown-in” insulation in their homes, to make sure it’s not on top of the exhaust fan’s housings, as it allows more heat to build up by insulating the fan.
Brewer agreed with Embrey’s advice, adding that the recommendations apply to smoke alarms, as well.
“We know to change smoke alarm batteries twice a year, during time changes (Daylight Savings Time). But, if your smoke alarms are over 10 years old, they need to be replaced as well,” he said.
Brewer recommended being on the safe side with other precautionary measures in the home, too.
“Remember, if there are any other electrical issues, or something doesn’t seem right, have someone look into it as it could be a potential source of fire,” Brewer said.


Glenrock Independent

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