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NE Bend house fire sparked by overloaded extension cord, investigators say

Was being used to run camper's AC; volunteers helped firefighters cope with 100-degree conditions

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A fire that damaged a northeast Bend home late Tuesday afternoon was started by a failed extension cord that apparently became overloaded, officials said after a firefighting effort challenged by triple-digit temperatures.

Bend Fire & Rescue crews responded around 4:20 p.m. to the reported garage fire on Northeast Seward Avenue, Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki said.

The owners were home and smelled smoke after noting that breakers had tripped in their main electrical panel, he said. They found the garage full of smoke and called 911.

The first crews to arrive found the blaze had spread into the attic. The fire was quickly stopped and ventilated to prevent further damage to the home and belongings, Derlacki said.

An American Red Cross disaster team was called to help the homeowners find a place to stay for a few nights.

Bend Police assisted with traffic control, while fire department volunteers responded with cooling supplies to help firefighters challenged by the 100-degree temperatures.

Derlacki said the homeowners had a camper next to the house and were using its air conditioning to keep cool, as they don’t have any in the house.

When they went to the camper on Tuesday, they found the power was off and AC not working, he said. When they looked into what was wrong, they found the circuit breaker had tripped. Derlacki said it was determined the cord to power the camper had failed in the garage and started the fire.

"The cord used was too small of gauge to handle the power draw of the AC operating in the camper," Derlacki said in a news release. "It's undetermined if the cord failed due to the power draw or if it had been damaged beforehand."

The fire official added, "Bend Fire Department reminds everyone to always ensure extension cords are used properly to prevent fires or damage. Ensure the size and amperage limits of the cord match the usage. Ensure the cord is not pinched, trapped or damaged in any way. This damage can lead to a fire or short. Only use one cord between the appliance and the outlet to reduce the chance failure." 

Article Topic Follows: Fire

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