Charring and other damage is visible on a downtown residence burned in a fire early Sunday morning, Nov. 15, 2020. No one was injured, but Capital City Fire/Rescue assessed the damage at roughly $100,000. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Electrical issues likely sparked residential fire Sunday, CCFR says

No injuries occured, but the house was badly damaged.

Capital City Fire/Rescue confirmed in a social media post that an electrical fault or appliance failure caused a house fire early Sunday morning.

“(We got a) report of smoke coming out of the house. It’s a two-and-a-half story house,” said CCFR assistant fire chief Ed Quinto in a phone interview. “There’s also an apartment on the backside. The occupants were home and got woken up by the smoke detector, fortunately.”

The call came in at roughly 3:30 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 15. The residence is locate across from Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kalé High School.

“The fire marshal conducted a fire origin and cause investigation,” wrote CCFR fire marshal Dan Jager in the Facebook post. “It is determined the cause of this fire is electrical in nature either due to overloaded electrical circuits or a failure of an appliance.”

The house’s construction made for a longer-than-normal process of extinguishing the fire, Quinto said.

[Firefighters extinguish late-evening downtown vehicle blaze]

“It took us a while to put the fire out. It was embedded pretty deep. The fire went from the first floor. There’s a lot of smoke and fire damage,” Quinto said. “That house had gone through multiple remodelings. There were some spaces we had to check out. Usually we do a quick knockdown. We had to chase it around (this time).”

While the home is insured, the damage is deep and substantial.

“The house fire is still an open case. We’re still narrowing it down on that,” Jager said in a phone interview. “I talked to the owner today and he’s estimating that damage at half a million.”

“CCFR would like to caution residents in the use of multi plug adapters. While most are listed and approved devices that allow a standard two plug receptacle to accommodate multiple receptacles, you must be aware of not only what appliances are plugged in but the total number of watts being drawn by those appliances,” Jager said. “If the watts are more than the circuit can accommodate, then breaker switches may trip or there may be a failure in an appliance or its wiring.”

For Quinto, it reinforces lessons that should be remembered every winter as the rate of house fires increases with increased use of heating systems and wood stoves.

Make sure your smoke detectors are working,” Quinto said. “And make sure you have a second means of egress.”

Familiarity and a forward plan can be a livesaver in the case of a fire. Heavy smoke, lack of oxygen and disorientation can throw you off your stride in a house you’ve lived in for years, Jager said. A plan and a smoke detector can make all the difference.

“The occupants were alerted when their smoke alarms went off,” Jager said. “The occupants were on the second floor. When they opened their door, they were hit with thick, dark smoke. Who knows how it could have gone if they didn’t have a smoke alarm.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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