PLAINVILLE – An improperly placed space heater caused a house fire on Diamond Avenue this morning leaving two women and several dogs displaced, fire officials said.
A woman sleeping in the master bedroom of 104 Diamond Ave. woke up to the sound of crackling and realized the room was on fire at around 6 a.m., Fire Marshal Larry Sutherland said.
At the same time, a neighbor who is in the U.S. Army saw the glow and smoke coming from the home and went through the front door to make sure the residents were awake and got out safely, Sutherland said.
“Kudos to the neighbor,” the fire marshal said. “He made sure everyone got out safely.”
Two cats perished in the blaze but no one else was in injured. The dogs are being temporarily taken care of by the Plainville Animal Control Officer, Sutherland said. The women are meeting with the American Red Cross, which will help them find lodging.
Sutherland said initial reports indicate the fire was started by a space heater placed too close to combustible material. The bedroom sustained heavy fire damage and the rest of the home sustained heavy smoke and water damage, making the house uninhabitable until extensive repairs can be done.
The blaze is troubling, Sutherland said, because it’s the fourth house in two months causing by the improper use or installation of alternative heating sources. In the three other house fires, in each case, an improperly installed wood burning stove caused a fire that led to extensive damage to the homes, he said.
An improperly installed wood burning stove also caused extensive damage to an industrial building on Cronk Road a few weeks ago.
“We can’t stress enough that if you have an alternative heating source you need to make sure it’s properly installed,” Sutherland said.
Wood or pellet stoves should be installed by a professional who has taken out a permit with the town’s building department, he said. The work should be inspected by the town when it’s complete, he added.
“What we are seeing is that the flue pipes are being installed too close to wood materials and with use the wood dries out and eventually causes a fire,” Sutherland said.
With this morning’s fire, there have been 10 people displaced in the past two months and more than $2 million worth of damage done to homes and the industrial buildings due to fires that are preventable, he said.
Residents should have working smoke detectors and make sure to use space heaters at a safe distance from anything that could heat up and catch fire. People should also call 911 immediately and get out of the house if there is a fire, he said. Do not attempt to put out the flames, he added.
“I hope we don’t have to lose someone for people to take this seriously,” he said.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.