Overloaded extension cord caused piano shop blaze
Tangled mass of older cord powered two space heaters
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - Fire investigators believe that the electrical stress placed upon an old extension cord which was powering two space heaters in the basement near the center of the building was most likely responsible for Thursday night's blaze which destroyed Frederick Johnson Pianos.
The heavy electrical draw being pulled through wire which wasn't rated at sufficient amps to carry that kind of load led to overheating that was made worse by the "spaghetti-like, bunched up" tangle of cord next to the wall where it was plugged in, meaning that the resulting heat was concentrated in a tight area, Hartford Fire Captain Chris Dube explained Saturday.
"This was a hundred-foot extension cord which heated up and eventually caused this fire," Dube said, noting that after investigators interviewed the owners of the business and spent Friday digging through to the basement of the building they found the two space heaters and traced the remnants of the two cords back to an area where the fire appeared to have originated.
"The likely cause of this fire...is accidental due to the overloaded cord," Dube said of the investigator's conclusions.
The captain said that as a general rule an extension cord should only be powering one thing at a time. He added that it is equally important to make sure that if, for example, an appliance or tool draws 12-amps that it is drawing that power through an extension cord that is rated for at least 12-amps, and preferably 15-amps or more for an added margin of safety. Cords that are actively powering something should also be routed as straight as possible and not bunched, coiled or run underneath carpeting or cloth because if there is an overload then the resulting electrical resistance will manifest itself in the form of heat so the more wire that is crammed into the same area, the more heat that will be concentrated there, Dube explained.
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