Plugged-in items pose fire danger when power is restored

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – The dangers of Irene's aftermath were seen first-hand in Henrico Tuesday morning. Fire broke out in the 5300 block of Cutshaw Avenue. There were no injuries, and the major damage was limited  to the second floor. But investigators say what happened here could be an ongoing problem as more folks get their power back on.

It was 9:45 a.m. The fire was seen coming from the back window. Nobody was home when it happened.

Like most people, the Gardner family lost power on Saturday. So Linda went to live with her daughter. But David spent last night, here, in the dark. He left the house at 8:30 in the morning. Finally, the power came back on shortly after 9:00. And that's when David got the phone call.

"They basically said, my house was on fire," David said.

An accidental fire that was traced to the couple's master bedroom.

"They think that maybe the hair dryer, when the power came back on, that maybe it was the hair dryer," Linda said, adding, "That was plugged in right in that area where it started."

Firefighters say this isn't the first time they've seen this kind of accident. It probably won't be the last.

"It is a possibility that things like this are going to occur again in the next several days," said Capt. Chris Buehren with the Henrico Division of Fire.

As more homes get their electricity back, it will quickly become apparent what was "on" when the power was lost.

"You want to try to go back and think what was on? Was it the stove, was it the curling iron, was it the hair dryer?" Buehren said.

Despite the latest setback in what's already a difficult week, the Gardners are in good spirits. What was lost...they can replace.

"It's just stuff. We survived," Linda said, "I'm alive. He's alive. So, it's just stuff."

Firefighters say, do yourself a favor: If you've left your house in the aftermath of the storm, go  back there. Make sure all the items are unplugged and appliances are turned off.

Firefighters are also seeing several fires related to portable generators. They're reminding folks to read the instructions carefully before using them.

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