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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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1/14/2013 9:55:00 PM
'Heat tape' on cat bed leads to garage fire
The Daily Courier


Prescott firefighters put out a fire Friday morning that fire investigators determined was caused by "heat tape" placed on a cat bed inside the home's detached garage, said Don Devendorf, Prescott Fire division chief and fire marshal.

At 3:55 a.m., Prescott firefighters answered a call about a fence fire near a home in the 600 block of Flora Street in Prescott.

When firefighters arrived, they found heavy smoke and flames coming from a detached garage behind the home that was completely engulfed, Devendorf said.

Firefighters could get inside the garage so they used hose lines from outside the garage to bring the fire under control in about 15 minutes, Devendorf said.

Prescott police officers helped evacuate homes nearby as flames came close to another home, large trees, and primary power lines that service the Prescott Heights area.

The homeowner told firefighters a neighbor woke him up by knocking on his door to tell him his garage was on fire, Devendorf said.

The homeowner told firefighters that he tried to provide a warm environment for the family cat to sleep in the garage by placing "heat tape" on the cat's bed and covered it with material, Devendorf said.

"The investigation proved that the heat tape, in direct contact with combustible materials, was the accidental cause of the fire," Devendorf said.

The garage was a total loss, and damages are estimated at $20,000 for the garage and $5,000 for the contents, Devendorf said.

"Heat tapes are meant to keep pipes from freezing and get very hot, but dissipate their heat through the lengths of pipe that are attached to them," Devendorf said. "This has been important in recent days with our sub-freezing temperatures."

No one was injured in the garage fire, but a resident was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, Devendorf said.

Three engines, a truck, three chief officers, an investigator, a utility truck, and LifeLine Ambulance - 19 people - answered the call, Devendorf said.

"There are two lessons that the public can take away from this event; the first being that the improper use of equipment that generates heat can start a fire," Devendorf said. "The second being that space heaters used too close to combustibles are also a common cause of fires."

A fire in Tucson on Saturday, Jan. 12 started when a space heater used to heat an area for cats to sleep outside ignited the bedding material, causing $15,000 in damage to the home and displacing the family.

"Space heaters should be kept at least three feet away from combustibles, and should be monitored at all times while they are in use," Devendorf said.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: Barbara Allgood

Prescott Police and Fire departments were on the scene quickly and performed their jobs professionally and thoroughly in the 4AM fire in Prescott Heights January 11. As a neighbor in that area am very grateful for the excellent response.

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: bill gordon

Good intentions without knowledge is a very dangerous thing. Bring the cat inside and close him in a bathroom or spare room. He/she will love you more for it.

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: Glad Everyone is Alright

I'm glad the owner tried to keep the cat warm. There are too many cruel animal owners that make no attempt to keep their pets warm in extreme temps. Next time buy a cat heating pad that only warms up to body temp when the cat lays on it. They are available at pet stores, are safe, and only cost about $15 to $20.

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: I hope

the cat's okay . . .



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