Weekend fire traced to space heaters

PHOTOGRAPHER: PETER R. BARBER Schenectady firefighters battle a 2-alarm fire at 565 Florence Street Saturday.PHOTOGRAPHER: PETER R. BARBER Schenectady firefighters battle a 2-alarm fire at 565 Florence Street Saturday.

By Steven Cook

Fire investigators traced the likely cause of a Saturday afternoon fire on Florence Street to two improperly plugged-in space heaters, officials said Monday.

Firefighters used the case to remind residents that space heaters can be dangerous. If used, they should be plugged directly into the wall without any extension cords or power strips.

Extension cords and power strips often aren’t built for the kind of power used by space heaters and can catch fire as a result, Assistant Fire Chief Michael Gillespie said.

Saturday afternoon’s fire broke out shortly before 1:45 p.m. at 565 Florence St.

Two adults lived in the home with their dogs, Gillespie said. An arriving family member alerted them to the flames and both adults and all the dogs got out safely, Gillespie said. Firefighters arrived and assisted the evacuation, officials have said.
The house was a total loss. The city determined the building to be structurally unsafe and brought in crews Sunday to demolish it.

Gillespie said investigators determined the blaze to be accidental and that “everything lines up to those space heaters.”
Investigators determined the space heaters were plugged into a power strip with an extension cord also involved. He wasn’t sure of the exact configuration.

Gillespie recommended residents that use a space heater to double check the wall outlet to determine if it can handle the amps.

If residents do use them, Gillespie also reminded residents to keep combustibles away and in a safe place where children can’t access it.