Baseboard heater cause of Oak Harbor house fire

What appeared at first to be a minor blaze still caused an estimated $30,000 in damage to the home.

An improperly maintained baseboard heater caused a fire at an Oak Harbor home Nov. 12, according to the Oak Harbor Fire Department.

What appeared at first to be a minor blaze still caused an estimated $30,000 in damage to the home, according to a statement from the department.

The residents of an East Whidbey Avenue house smelled smoke and reported the fire at 6:30 p.m. On-duty firefighters were at the scene of a serious car accident on Regatta Avenue, so paid-on-call firefighters responded and arrived within two minutes with an engine and ladder truck, a press release states.

Firefighters discovered a smoldering fire and put it out with a portable water extinguisher, then set up ventilation in the house and secured the electrical panel.

After removing the baseboard heater, firefighters discovered that the insulation inside the wall, flooring and subflooring where also smoldering.

“The fire could have been very dangerous if it had not been detected by the residents,” the press release states, noting that the home did not have working smoke alarms.

Fire investigators determined that the fire was caused by an improperly maintained baseboard heater and poor airflow to the heater, according to the fire department.

The fire department offered tips to safely use baseboard heaters:

• Baseboard heaters need maintenance – vacuum and wipe them down to keep them clean.

• Check for small objects prior to turning the heater on – toys, crayons, etc.

• Give them some space – do not put anything next to the heater.

• Keep curtains away from the heaters.

• Never permit electrical cords to drape across the heater.

• Inspect all heating equipment yearly and always hire an experienced electrician to do any necessary repair work on your baseboard heaters.