3 things you can do to help prevent an attic fire

Posted at 7:28 AM, Feb 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-05 18:42:19-05

ASHLAND, Va. (WTVR) - A woman escaped a morning house fire in Ashland, according to CBS 6 reporter Jerrita Patterson. The woman was taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

It took firefighters about 45 minutes to mark the Rocky Ridge Rd. house fire under control. The fire was first reported about 6:20 a.m.

"Fire Marshal’s determined the fire to be accidental as a result of an electrical malfunction," Hanover Fire spokesman Battalion Chief Jason Williams wrote in an email.

When firefighters first arrived on scene, heavy smoke was pouring from the attic.

More than 40 percent of attic fires are due to electrical malfunctions, Williams said.

"Examples of this include frayed wires, loose electrical connections, broken or overloaded extension cords, faulty switches and outlets. Other less common causes are defective chimney linings, lightning strikes, and fire traveling vertically from a floor below," Williams said.

Want to help prevent an attic fire? Here are three things firefighters suggest you hire have a professional to do:

  1. Have your chimney inspected by a professional who will check the interior and exterior of the chimney, including the part running through the attic
  2. Check the wiring in your attic, preferably by an electrician, looking for signs of damage, cracked insulation (wire sheathing), and exposed or disconnected wires
  3. Look for signs of burning and charring in the insulation and wood

Steve Simmons, of Simmons Electrical Services, said he receives service calls when someone spots something blinking or hears a sizzling noise in their attic.

Simmons pointed out potential attic hot spots like outdated wires and overloaded circuit breakers.

"We have a problem with everybody plugging in the space heaters to supplement their heat. And then, they'll put them on a long drop cord. So, the longer the cord is. The more ampage it will draw on the circuit," said Simmons.

He said another homeowners using high voltage lightbulbs in ceiling fixtures than what is required is also a fire hazard.

"All that is heat is trapped in the globe of that light fixture which then it goes straight up into the attic and into the wires and it will bake the wires," said Simmons.