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$150,000 SE Bend church fire traced to pinched cord


A fire that caused $150,000 damage to a southeast Bend church early Monday morning apparently was caused by a pinched extension cord, fire investigators said later in the day.

Fire crews were called out shortly before 5:30 a.m. to the commercial structure fire at 910 Southeast Wilson Avenue after a passer-by spotted smoke coming from the roof of the building, said Deputy Fire marshal Dan Derlacki.

Crews arrived to find fire in Suite A1, occupied by Eagle Mountain Fellowship, and spreading in the attic, Derlacki said.

An attic firewall prevented the blaze from spreading past the church in the one-story, multi-tenant building, which also includes Revival Furniture, officials said.

Crews were able to quickly stop the fire’s spread in the church and worked for another couple of hours to be sure it was out, a process complicated by high ceilings and a large attic space.

Damages were estimated at $100,000 to the building and $50,000 to contents. Sunriver Fire Department crews helped cover calls during the incident.

Derlacki said the fire’s cause was linked to an extension cord pinched by equipment in a sound roof off the stage in the main sanctuary. He said the equipment pinched the thin cord, causing it to overheat and spark a fire that spread through the wall into the storage room behind the stage and from there into the attic.

The fire official reminded businesses that Oregon Fire Code only allows use of extension cords for temporary wiring, less than 90 days in any 12-month period. It’s suggested that homeowners and residents follow the same rules as commercial buildings, Derlacki added.

“Extension cords are designed to be temporary wiring to provide power to equipment,” he wrote. “When cords are run underneath carpets, through ceilings and into cabinets, that is not considered temporary.”

Extension cords are not intended to be used for long periods of time, so “they are not designed to take the wear and tear of long-term use, including being stepped on, long-term power usage and multiple items plugged into the cord.”

Derlacki added, “The best way to prevent these types of fires” is to use surge-suppressing power taps, known as surge protectors. Those are the types of cords you find many computers plugged into in the workplace. They are designed for longer use and have their own circuit built inside.

Even then, he said, it’s important to match the amperage needed for appliances and equipment plugged into them to the right level of surge protector.

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