The Ottumwa Courier

July 10, 2013

Overloaded outlets spark house fire

By CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — While trying to cool off from the recent high temperatures and humidity, one Ottumwan overloaded her outlets, leading to a house fire.

Firefighters responded to 318 N. McLean St. at 8:37 p.m. Tuesday to find smoke spewing from the attic and sides of the house.

Thankfully, said Fire Chief Tony Miller, the 92-year-old woman who lived inside escaped unharmed.

"We're pretty sure it was an electrical fire," he said. "She had a whole bunch of stuff hooked up, and fire was coming out of a couple of the outlets."

The homeowner had air conditioning on and fans running, which, combined with high temperatures and a small house, overloaded the circuits, he said.

"This house fire could definitely be heat-related because it was so hot out," he said.

The house did sustain damages, but the largest chunk of the bill will likely be from rewiring the home.

"There were wires that needed to get replaced years ago and weren't," he said. "Then she put all of that stuff on overloaded circuits, so there's probably extensive electrical work needed on the house."

Firefighters shut off power to the house, though, so the flames wouldn't rekindle.

While American Red Cross did respond, the woman's family was able to provide her shelter.

This marks Ottumwa's 29th structure fire so far this year, Miller said. In the entirety of 2012, the city saw 34 structure fires.

"I've been here 31 years, and we've never had a run like this where we've had so many house fires," he said. "And every one is different."