Officials confirm electrical fire on Military Hill

Marshal recommends grounded plugs, outlets to prevent fires



Firefighters responded to an fire at a quadplex on Military Hill on Friday. Officals say it was caused by an electrical problem

ZARA CRUDEN, Evergreen reporter

A faulty marriage between plug and outlet caused the electrical fire that burned an apartment near NW Stadium Way on Friday, officials say.

The outlet was behind a couch with blankets hanging over the back of it, Pullman Fire Marshal Chris Wehrung said. Electricity can arc from outlets when plugs are not connected properly. People disturbed the plug every time they sat down or moved the couch, and the blankets provided fuel that an electrical arc would need to spark a fire.

“Electricity is very dangerous and causes a lot of fires,” Wehrung said.

However, he added, electrical fires can be avoided with some precautions, like using grounded plugs and outlets.

A grounded plug has three prongs, while an ungrounded plug has two. Wehrung cautioned against using adapters to bypass the need for grounded outlets and plugs.

Another important element of electrical fire prevention is ensuring the outlet is in good condition, he said. Rust and damage to the cover plate can indicate an outlet is potentially dangerous.

Wehrung said to avoid falling asleep with things on the stove or putting clothing or other flammable items on lamps, and to make sure cables do not become trapped beneath furniture legs. Residents living in older apartments should be careful not to overload their circuits, as they may not be built to accommodate heavier appliances.

In the case of a house fire, Wehrung said, people should immediately get out of the building, notify neighbors and call 911. Even if a person suspects a fire in their home, they should call the fire department to make sure everything is okay.

“We would rather come out and say there’s no emergency,” Wehrung said, “than come out when it’s too late and there is a true emergency.”