My House Caught on Fire!

Last week, my sister Michelle and I had to go somewhere, and we stayed out late.  while we were gone, my son Jeremy accidentally locked himself outside when he got home from work, so he sat on the front porch to wait for us.

When Michelle and I got home, the three of us walked inside together, and we immediately noticed a bad smell.  Because all of us were gone all day, we were afraid that one of the cats may have launched a mutiny and used the bathroom somewhere other than their litter boxes.  But the more we smelled, the more we all decided it didn’t smell like that kind of foul smell.

It was late, so after we cleaned the litter boxes and changed our clothes, we made dinner and watched a little television before bed.  An hour or so later, as Michelle was in her bedroom getting ready for bed, I heard her scream.  When I went in to see what happened, she told me that something black caught her eye and she was afraid that our black cat Zsa Zsa had lost a large tuft of fur in a fight.  (The other cats tend to pick on poor Zsa Zsa when we’re not around.)  When she bent over to pick it up, however, she noticed that her surge protector was stuck to the carpet on top of the “black fur.”  She then pulled on it and realized that it was not cat fur at all, but that her surge protector had apparently caught on fire!  (By the way, only her computer and monitor were plugged in.  Thankfully, they both still work.)

I have no idea why our smoke detector didn’t go off, and I know it works because it went off just the week before when I had some candles lit.  Luckily, the fire must have put itself out, or perhaps heat and smoke was as far as it got.  And thankfully all our belongings — and more importantly our cats — were not caught in a blazing home!  We still have no idea how or why this happened, but we do intend to write to the manufacturer of the surge protector company and see what they have to say.  How scary is this?

Time to talk:  Have you ever personally known someone this has happened to?  What do you think made this happen?  Have you even known someone whose house caught fire?

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74 thoughts on “My House Caught on Fire!

  1. Oh my goodness! Glad that your house didn’t burn down and that your kitties are okay. That is so scary!! xo

  2. I am so glad your carpet didn’t catch and send up the whole house!!! I am terrified of fire – I have only had one bad scare, but I know scared you must have been.

    Surge protectors in my house are the expensive ones – I had one of those small Belkin’s burn out on me before. Now, I have multiple levels of surge protection – outside at the meter, loadside, and internal. My house was built in the 70’s and rewiring it would be too expensive, so I have all three. You don’t need all three is your house is newer – a loadside and an internal (USUALLY) works. A loadside protector is installed (BY AN ELECTRICIAN!!!) at the switchbox where your circuit breakers are. They run under $200.00, but you MUST have an electrician install it. Too dangerous to do it yourself!!! You can go to the Leviton.com website and get clear information on what these are and how they work but there are other providers. Ask your electrician for what is available in your area. I went with all three because here in the mountains we get huge lightning storms – it is just safer.

    Internal surge protection comes in all types and styles. CNet has an article: http://www.cnet.com/news/9-things-you-should-know-about-surge-protectors/

    They advertise who pays them (of course) but the article itself is great for more information on getting the right protection for your needs. Lifehacker.com has a “5 best” list and there are other review sites out there that have information on the best and safest power bars/surge protectors.

    The way I look at it, my four-legged-family, me (you see who gets mentioned first, right?) and my electronics are worth the few hundred I put into getting multiple layers of protection, but even the RIGHT internal protection is worth it. At least it did it’s job without burning down the house!!

    Oh, and unplugging the bar when you go out not only keeps your computer from a surge when you are out, it saves on electricity!

    Glad you and your two and four-legged family are all right!!!! 😉

  3. Blimey! I am most assiduouse in turning things off at the wall when I go out/go to bed etc. my neighbour from years back had just sold her house when her microwave burst into flames (it was only switched on at the wall). Needless to say she lost her buyer.

  4. You’ve had a rough month. Maybe you need to contact someone to banish evil spirits. I had an actual smoke detector do the same thing. It blackened the ceiling and melted the plastic. It would be ironic to burn down my house when it’s supposed to protect me from such an event.

  5. Wow Rachel! You are a lucky one. Thank goodness it wasn’t worse. There used to be so many more house fires when people smoked in bed. You would see mattresses by the roadside with holes burned in them.

  6. That’s scary. Recently, we had a small electrical fire in our basement. The dryer was overloaded and drew too much power from the badly wired power lines. We smelled the same kind of thing and stopped the load to investigate. Luckily it just melted a bunch of plastic and caused a few singes to the wood. My stepdad had to fix it for us. Yay for knowing an electrical/mechanical engineer!

  7. I thought I surge protector was supposed to protect against these things. Hmmm…maybe that’s why the fire went out so quickly. In any case, glad you are alright. That’s pretty scary.

  8. Good grief!! I’m so glad it didn’t go further than that. You had some angels there, girl. Yep, no doubt the ‘what ifs’ on that would be scary. So glad it worked out for you, and thanks for sharing. Will be more diligent on checking on these things around my house now.

  9. Makes me wonder what’s going on in the wire connected to the surge protector. Was there something wrong with the surge protector…or did you have a surge through a wire that the surge protector protected your computer from. Electrician might be good …as some else also said.

  10. I think an electrician needs to see if the surge protector was the problem or the savior, tomorrow, Rachel. Maybe it reacted to something coming from elsewhere in the house’s electrical set-up! Now I’m worried about you and Michelle and Jeremy’s safety. Fire is nothing to trifle with, of course, my friend. Look at how dangerous this instance looks! I’m glad you’re all spared from this one. Maybe you’ll be moving to Syracuse real soon.

    • Yes, this was very scary. I got paranoid about all of the outlets and other surge protectors in the house. We’re getting it checked, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted. 🙂

  11. Oh my goodness! I’d send a letter to the company and maybe one to Consumer Reports magazine–some of these things have lifetime warranties and they’ll replace them for free, or if it was defective and there was a recall, they might owe you something as a legal whatsit. (And that’s pretty much the extent of my knowledge on electronics warranties…)

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