Northwest NEWS

September 21, 1998

Front Page

Kenmore fire blamed on overloaded circuits


Andrew Walgamott/staff photo

Firefighters attack a fire that spread to the attic of a Kenmore home.

   by Andrew Walgamott
   Staff reporter

   KENMORE--A fire that left a Kenmore family of four homeless was blamed on overloaded electrical circuits.
   Nobody was injured in the blaze which burned for about half an hour. It began around 10:23 a.m. Sept. 17 in the back half of the one-story wood-frame home in the 19300 block of 80th Ave. N.E.
   According to Terri Jones, Northshore Fire District fire prevention specialist, the older home was equipped with electrical service that didn't meet the family's electrical demands. She said extension cords and adapter plugs were used throughout the house to service many appliances, and electrical cords were located under rugs, through doors and under boxes.
   Linda Kesler, who has lived at the home for over two dozen years with her husband, daughter and son, said the home may have been built in the late 1800s and had been rewired several times since.
   She arrived on the scene from work after crews had control of the stubborn fire. It spread from the back of the residence then extended into the attic. The front half of the home suffered heavy smoke and heat damage. Kesler's daughter Christina had been sleeping when her brother, Tim, discovered the fire. Both got out safely after calling 911.
   They watched as crews from Northshore, Bothell and Shoreline fire departments battled the blaze. A neighbor comforted them.
   Kesler said two dogs the family had were safe, though her guinea pig named Ruffles apparently died. She said she was still looking for her five cats as well.
   There was a sad irony as the first rain in about a month began to fall on the scene.
   "It's great, standing out in the rain and watching your home burn," Kesler said. She was looking forward to seeing what could be saved and suggested it didn't look as bad as it appeared.
   But Christina, who was only able to grab a knitted blanket which she wore over her shoulders, believed that embroidered clothing in her room had been lost.
   The family had three smoke detectors, though none were installed, according to Jones. They had been stored in a dresser drawer, she said.
   Jones said extension cords aren't intended for use in lieu of permanent wiring. "Running electrical cords of any kind under rugs, through doorways or under combustibles is asking for a fire to happen," she stated.
   Kesler said the home had been insured. The family was offered assistance by the Red Cross.
   Holding the family's small, red Chihuahua-Yorkshire dog named Chewbacca as the rain began to slacken, Kesler said, hopefully, "It'll be better tomorrow."