According to West Side Fire Marshall Jim Trammel, the Aug. 27 blaze at 3099 Eliot Drive in the Heights began as a failure of an outdoor extension cord. A garage, a motor home and a car were completed destroyed and a modular home received damage. No injuries occurred.
“We met at the scene along with in representatives from State Farm Insurance and their investigator and searched for the cause and origin of the fire,” said Trammel.
“We determined it was actually under the hood of the motor home and was related to the failure of the extension cord used to charge the battery.” Trammel confirmed that the cord was being used properly but that material failure in the extension cord itself resulted in the ignition.
“The last three major fires that we’ve had in the West Side district involving structures over the past two years have been related to the failure of extension cords,” noted Trammel, who plans on a community education campaign this fall along with other district fire chiefs.
Trammel listed the other two fire locations on Multnomah Road and Benton Road and confirmed they were both ignited by extension cord failures.
“With newer extension cords made in Mexico or China, the material is not to the standard we’ve found in extension cords we’ve used in the past,” said Trammel. “Sometimes you just have material failures.”
With this recent significant loss to the Mason family, Trammel encourages everyone to evaluate extension cords in their homes.
“Make sure they are in good condition, not frayed or cracked, and don’t use cords that are rated less than the appliance you are trying to plug them into.” Heating problems occur when cords are rated to carry lower amps than the appliances they are plugged into.
“And,” said Trammel, “they should only be used for temporary purposes.”
Trammel plans to gather other chiefs together to craft an educational notice on extension cord management prior to the start of cold weather when portable heaters, Christmas lights and other common extension cord use items are brought out for the season.