'Exploding' air conditioner to blame for Yakima house fire, officials warn of hazards
YAKIMA, Wash. -- An exploding air conditioner is to blame for a house fire Wednesday evening.
It's a reminder during these hot summer days to be careful of potential fire hazards in your home.
A family's air conditioner recently blew up and sparked a fire. Local homeowners said they’re guilty of breaking some safety rules that firefighters and electricians are now actively warning the community about.
“I didn't know that the fire had started; I actually had someone come knock on the door and tell me,” said Cecilia Ramirez.
Her next-door neighbor's home was up in flames.
Firefights responded to the scene in the 700 block of North 20th Avenue. It was a shocking sight as panic gripped Ramirez.
“I was just worried for the safety not only of my own children but of the neighbors as well,” said Ramirez. “My first instinct was to go over and see if everybody was okay.”
No one was injured, but with her own home just yards away, dry weeds and brush between the two properties suddenly became fuel for a fire that could spread. However, firefighters contained the blaze quickly.
Still, it’s a devastating loss caused by an overheated air conditioner.
“The fire department said that can cause them to explode and cause house fires such as this one,” said Ramirez. “I mean that's something I do all the time, especially since I have kids upstairs - I use my AC 24/7.”
A big mistake for the mother of three, according to fire and electricity officials who said overloading power outlets is a surefire way for things to go wrong.
“I find myself using the outlets - I over-pack them,” said Ramirez.
Firefighters and Pacific Power said to unplug and turn off anything you aren't using, especially when you leave home. They said power strips and frayed wires are also a hazard.
For those using an air conditioning window unit, they said check the markings on your circuit breakers or have an electrician do a walk through.
“Just kind of be careful about how if you just plug it in with the plug that happens to be there, for all you know that's on the same circuit as the dishwasher, or the fridge, or something else,” said Pacific Power spokesperson Tom Gauntt.
Officials also reiterated more obvious but overlooked dangers, like keeping lighters and candles away from children and at least three feet from flammable items. They said working smoke detectors are your best safeguard if something does start to burn.
Tips Ramirez said she's now putting into practice to keep her family safe.
Firefighters also recommend closing your bedroom doors when you sleep. They said it limits the oxygen flow throughout the home if a fire does start and could save your life.