Candle causes fire, smoke damage

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 3, 2016

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WEST BLOOMFIELD —  Fire crews from six West Bloomfield Fire Department stations responded to a house fire in the 3000 block of Winterberry Drive, near Commerce and Union Lake roads, July 14.

Upon arrival, crew members located the fire in the master bedroom area. The fire was extinguished, but extensive smoke damage was noted throughout the entire house, which is over 5,000 square feet, according to West Bloomfield Fire Marshal Byron Turnquist. The residents and their dogs escaped unharmed. 

The fire was not intentional and was caused by improper use of a candle, Turnquist said.

“We want to recommend people use (candles) properly. They should be in some sort of glass container to prevent tipping and to prevent things from being knocked into them,” Turnquist said. 

The Fire Department has previously battled fires caused by candles, and Turnquist said people should never leave candles unattended or near combustibles.

Fire Chief Greg Flynn explained that wax is a candle’s fuel source. As wax from a lone candle — one not in a container — spills over and spreads, it increases the risk of a fire. When it comes to candles, “more isn’t always better,” Flynn added.

“I would discourage people from having too many open flames unattended in their home. That can lead to an increased risk of fire,” Flynn said.

Even candle warmers should not be left unattended. 

“They’re essentially just a hot plate. That’s a heat source. ... It’s not good practice to leave that on and unattended. You don’t want to leave your coffee pot unattended either,” he said, giving another example of a heat source. 

Smoke detectors should be tested monthly and should be replaced every 10 years. Batteries in smoke detectors should be changed every six months. Homeowners should also have working fire extinguishers on hand.

“The last couple fires we had, two of the homes didn’t have working smoke detectors. We’re trying to get the word out to check these and make sure they’re functioning,” Turnquist said. 

With this fire, Turnquist said, it was difficult for crew members to find the address, and he requested that residents make sure their address is clearly visible on the streets. 

“It didn’t slow us down, but it was unique because most of our houses you can see address numbers,” he said.

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