Fire investigation reports reveal tips on ways to avoid burning down your house

Fireman wave to the crowd at the 2011 Fourth of July Parade

A little bit of caution can help keep your property safe and ensure the only time you see a firetruck up close is at the Fourth of July parade.

Thanks to advances in technology, improvements to building codes, and increased consumer product industry regulation, the total number of house fires nation-wide has dropped significantly over the past 35 years.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 370,000 house fires occurred in 2011, a number almost equal to half of the total incidents that occurred in 1977.

Each time a structure fire occurs in the city, the Division of Fire performs an investigation to determine its cause.

Below is a list of reports covering the last 13 fires of 2012. (Two other fires to occur during this period, one at 17437 Shaw Avenue and the other at 17225 Clifton Boulevard, are still under investigation.)

Some of these incidents could have been avoided with commonsense, while others could have happened to anyone.

Tip: When cooking outdoors with a grill or smoker, extinguish the coals or ashes before returning the device to the garage. (Read report)
Incident location: Garage – single-family house
Address: 1535 Woodward Avenue
Date: November 11, 2012

Tip: If a bathroom fan stops working, check the fuse box and turn the electricity off. (Read report)
Incident location: Bathroom – apartment
Address: 1685 Lincoln Avenue
Date: November 7, 2012

Tip: If a power outage occurs while cooking on an electric stovetop, turn the burner controls to the off position. (Read report)
Incident location: Kitchen – apartment
Address: 1336 Hird Avenue
Date: October 30, 2012

Tip: When installing a natural gas-burning fireplace log, be certain it won’t generate more heat than the fireplace is rated to handle. (Read report)
Incident location: Living room – two-family house
Address: 13485 Clifton Boulevard
Date: October 30, 2012

Tip: Store outdoor garbage cans a healthy distance away from occupied structures, and don’t use a fake security camera. (Read report)
Incident location: Exterior garbage cans – apartment
Address: 1353 Mathews Avenue
Date: August 27, 2012

Tip: Limit the time of use and level of voltage when using a jury-rigged extension cord set-up. (Read report)
Incident location: Garage – single-family house
Address: 1473 Larchmont Avenue
Date: July 6, 2012

Tip: Discard smoking material in a secure container. (Read report)
Incident location: Bedroom – single-family house
Address: 1449 Parkhaven Row
Date: July 3, 2012

Tip: Hire a licensed electrician when upgrading electrical systems – and think twice before utilizing extra basement space to grow marijuana. (Read report)
Incident location: Kitchen – two-family house
Address: 2083 Quail Street
Date: June 24, 2012

Tip: Keep children away from incense burners. (Read report)
Incident location: Hallway – apartment
Address: 1385 Manor Park Avenue
Date: June 22, 2012

Tip: Discard smoking material in a secure container. (Read report)
Incident location: Garage  - single-family house
Address: 1440 Robinwood Avenue
Date: June 6, 2012

Tip: Keep yard debris a safe distance from electrical receptacles. (Read report)
Incident location: Garage – single-family house
Address: 1588 Cordova Avenue
Date: April 30, 2012

Tip: Discard smoking material in a secure container. (Read report)
Incident location: Garage – two-family house
Address: 1245-47 Brockley Avenue
Date: March 25, 2012

Tip: Don’t overload power outlets with electronic devices. (Read report)
Incident location: Living room – single-family house
Address: 1466 Ridgewood Avenue
Date: March 13, 2012

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