Fire safety warnings are issued Advice follows blaze that killed 3 BALTIMORE CITY

July 09, 1993|By Roger Twigg | Roger Twigg,Staff Writer

City fire officials yesterday issued warnings on how to prevent electrical fires like the one Wednesday that killed an 18-year-old woman and two children in East Baltimore.

Fifteen people have died in electrical fires in the city in the past three years, and the recent deaths prompted officials to issue some recommendations to help prevent them.

This week's fatal fire in a rowhouse on the 2400 block of E. Biddle St. was caused by a faulty air conditioner or wiring, said Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres, a Fire Department spokesman. Chief Torres said investigators will most likely not delve much more into the fire. "Once we've ruled it accidental, we're not going much further than that," he said.

"What we would like to see most is for people to follow manufacturers guidelines in operating air conditioners and use a dedicated circuit for operating it," Chief Torres said.

He said problems occur when people plug air conditioners into outlets that are already supplying power to other appliances or use inadequate or multiple extension cords.

Other Fire Department advice includes:

* Avoid using more than one extension cord for one appliance. Also avoid placing the cord under carpeting. The carpeting would provide fuel should the cord overheat and catch fire. Only an extension cord of proper length and electrical capabilities should be used.

* Avoid using fuses larger than recommended sizes or placing pennies or other objects in fuse boxes. Both situations tend to defeat the purpose of having fuses shut down an overheated electrical system.

Chief Torres said people need to make sure their homes have adequate house power.

"The problem is many of the houses in the city were built over 50 years ago when they didn't have a need for house power because of the few available appliances," he said.

Consequently, some houses only have a couple of outlets.

"Just because there is a plug doesn't mean you can go ahead and plug it in," Chief Torres said.

And, finally, the department said, people should make sure they protect themselves with the installation of operable smoke detectors.

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