Firefighters warn about bathroom fan fire danger

Published: Feb. 12, 2015 at 9:55 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2015 at 9:55 PM EST
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Stafford County Fire and Rescue have put out a warning about the rise in house fires because of unchecked bathroom vents.

The fire department released photos of damage caused by exhaust fans that ignited. In the last 60 days, firefighters have responded to two fires, and Stafford firefighters fear that number may grow if steps aren't taken right now.

Closer to home, when a Brandermill home caught on fire in October, investigators traced it back to a bathroom vent fan that malfunctioned. Children were inside the home at the time.

Henrico Fire Captain Danny Rosenbaum  explained some of the things to look out for.  "Feel the motor and see if it's hot that could show a sign the motor is potentially wearing out and could cause a fire," he said.

Other potential hazards: leaving an exhaust fan on for an extended period of time and a build up of lint that has not been cleaned.

Rosenbaum says you should clean out your vent at least once a year, depending on how often it's used.

Firefighters say it doesn't take long for a fire to spread if  sparks start here.

It's one of the reasons why Jeff Tehovik is so adamant about this type of maintenance. Especially since his wife just had a baby.  "The bathroom fan just happens to be one of those things that with an older house we looked at replacing," says Tehovik.  "So when I did that I made sure that the fan was up to regulation and was safe for our family."

It's a seemingly simple safety check that could prevent a devastating loss.

Firefighters say it's best to have a newer vent fan which will have thermal heat protection.  They recommend hiring an electrician to do the replacement.

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