Discarded barbecue coals spark house fire

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 19, 2021

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — There were no reported injuries in a house fire April 18 in the 20000 block of Elizabeth Street.

St. Clair Shores Fire Chief James Piper said dispatchers called the Fire Department at 4:30 a.m. April 18 for a fire reported on the back of the home. All occupants were out of the home before firefighters got to the scene, he said.

The fire was deemed accidental and started outside the home, where it ran up to the eaves and got into the attic.

“Because of the trickiness of a fire like that getting into the attic, we spend a lot of time,” Piper said. “It becomes a hidden fire once it gets into the attic.”

Piper said the fire was caused by discarded barbecue coals that managed to spark something next to the home.

“Unfortunately, it got to something that was still kind of flammable, and that’s what got to the house,” he explained.

He said it’s important for residents to ensure that any kind of barbecue and bonfire materials are fully extinguished and situated a distance away from any structure.

“Sometimes, you can turn over barbecue coals 12 hours later and it’s still hot enough to catch paper on fire. It was obviously accidental,” he said, explaining that sometimes it may be best to leave the materials in the fireplace or barbecue for a day or so to ensure they have properly cooled before cleaning them up.

The home is not immediately habitable but should be repairable, Piper said.