The number of fires in residential homes on the Key Peninsula in 2007 is already triple the number from 2006. Many fires occurred at the same time (including several) in the past two months), and Key Peninsula Fire Department Division Chief Guy Allen thought this coincidence made it seem like there had been an increase in the number of fires.

This blaze on Oct. 8 that FD-16 firefighters are battling on 161st Avenue KPN off SR-302, was one of several in a rash of home fires that occurred in the last two months.

Recently, he compared the number of residential dwelling fires in 2006 to the number of incidents in 2007, “to see if we really have seen an increase or if it just felt like it because of the most recent fires being within close time frames.”

“(The) end result (of the analysis is that) we have certainly had an increase in residential fires this year,” he reported.

In 2006, there were six fires in one- and two-family residential homes. This number includes typical homes and duplexes but does not include exterior buildings. Of the six fires, three were listed as unintentional and two were failure of equipment or heat source. One fire was listed as “cause under investigation,” which does not mean it was intentional, only that the report has not been completed.

In 2007, there have been 18 fires as of Nov. 16 in one- and two-family dwellings. Of the 18 fires, 12 were listed as unintentional, one was failure of equipment or heat source and five are listed as cause under investigation.

By mid-November, the number of fires in those types of buildings tripled. The estimated dollar loss associated with those fires in 2007 was $1,783,100, which is also nearly triple the $637,750 estimated loss for 2006.

Pierce County Fire Marshal Mike Patti is also researching the significant increase in residence fires. He is looking into what kinds of fires have occurred. For instance, one of the 2007 fires was a lightening strike and that was an anomaly, according to Patti. “There are all kinds of things we can look at and if nothing else, we can raise awareness,” he said. “A lot of the fire numbers are up because the population is up on the Peninsula. With those numbers, there is an increase in a lot of activity.”

Fire safety awareness is high on Chief Allen’s list, too. “With a month and a half left in the year and combined with it being the winter season, there is potential that the year total will pass $2 million. Hopefully, people will be extra careful with their holiday decorations, get their chimneys cleaned, and not leave candles burning in rooms not occupied by someone who is alert,” he said.

 

Fire report correction

In follow-up to a previously published report from FD-16 about an Aug. 12 fire on property near Peninsula Iron Works, Guy Allen, division chief of Fire District 16, issued this statement: “After checking into this report, I found that a retraction should be done. The report suggested that the fire occurred at the Ironworks property. However, the 2-foot-diameter fire was in the driveway next to their entrance. After traveling to the site… to see it for myself, it is clear… that this was more of a vandalism incident.”

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