Fire Department Log

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday October 03, 2006

Unwatched pot 

A watched pot may never boil, but an unwatched one can burn, as a Vassar Avenue resident learned last Thursday evening. 

Deputy Fire Chief David Orth said the resident had forgotten that pot of water they’d left on the burner until flames started and smoke started boiling up. 

A panicked call to 911 at 9:14 p.m. brought firefighters to the scene at 429 Vassar, where they found the kitchen cabinetry fully aflame. 

It took but a few minutes to knock down the flames, but by the time the smoke cleared, an estimated $25,000 in damage had been done to the dwelling and another $10,000 to the contents, said Orth. 

“Pots can burn,” Orth said, explaining that once the water boils off, heat can melt the metal, or the pot can radiate heat that catches nearby plastics ablaze or triggers grease caught up by range hoods. 

“In this case, the fire got up the hood and spread to the cabinets,” he said.  


Candle culprit 

It may be better to light a candle than curse the darkness, but Chief Orth said it’s better not to light them at all—and certainly not if you’re planning to leave the room. 

A resident of a three-story dwelling at 2833 Regent St. discovered that a candle left burning in a bedroom at the rear of the second floor had ignited a blaze that was soon roaring. 

An effort to smother the flames resulted only in second- and third-degree burns to the hands, followed by a call to 911. 

“It went to a second alarm as soon as the first units arrived because the rear of the structure was already heavily involved,” Orth said. 

The blaze spread into an adjacent deck and into the ceiling above a third-floor attic that had been converted to a bedroom, he said. 

Firefighters arrived at 2:12 a.m., five minutes after the call, and it took them until 3:20 to control the fire. “We were still knocking down hot spots a couple of hours later,” Orth said. 

The blaze gutted the bedroom, a converted sun porch, as well as a deck and part of the roof. 

Damage to the structure was estimated at $400,000, with loss of contents topping $10,000, Orth said.