An apparent faulty electrical device or wire ignited a fire Dec. 30 that resulted in the loss of a home and its contents. The house at 8488 Magnolia Drive in the Bardmoor area was occupied by two grandparents, two parents and three children. The home is uninhabitable.
PINELLAS COUNTY - Statistics say December is the riskiest month for residential fires, and a recent rash of house fires around Pinellas is proving the numbers right.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, fire risk increases between Dec.1 and Jan. 7 each year. The administration attributes the increased risk to the holidays and cultural and religious practices, involving Christmas trees, candles and decorations that burn easily.
According to officials, most house fires can be prevented by public education campaigns.
During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses, according to the USFA. Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances.
At least three of the county's December fires can be attributed to electrical problems.
A Dec. 30 fire in Seminole was most likely caused by a faulty electrical device or wire, according to Seminole fire officials, who said the home and its contents were a total loss.
A malfunctioning attic water heater caused a fire on Dec. 6 at Bay Pointe Apartments in Largo. Thanks to the quick response from fire units from the High Point area, the fire was contained and a row of apartments saved. Fire Chief Jeffrey Bullock said that no one was injured in the fire.
An electrical short caused a Christmas Eve house fire on Ewing Avenue in Clearwater, according to a report on Clearwaterfire.com.
Several others fires were reported during December. The cause of some has yet to be determined. In many cases, residents lost their homes and their possessions.
Local fire departments work year round to educate the public on fire dangers and safety. Many county fire departments offer smoke detector and home inspection programs to help prevent fires.
After an elderly Pinellas Park couple lost their home and possessions on Nov. 29, after a pot was left on the kitchen stove started a fire, officials with the Pinellas Park Fire Department increased its campaign to ensure homes in the city were equipped with working smoke detectors.
Thanks to a neighbor no one was hurt in the fire. It was unknown whether the home had a working smoke detector.
Suzanne Boisvert, Pinellas Park Fire Department spokeswoman, said at as of Nov. 29, the department had installed 219 free alarms in 2005.
Residents of Pinellas Park can call the Fire and Life Safety Division at 541-0713 to request an inspection and detector installation or replacement.
People living in other cities around Pinellas can call their local fire department for information on ways to stay fire safe.