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Accidental fire in strip mall causes $500K in damage: Saskatoon fire department

Investigators have determined the cause and source of the fire was an extension cord plugged into a timer that was being served by another extension cord. .
Investigators have determined the cause and source of the fire was an extension cord plugged into a timer that was being served by another extension cord. . Saskatoon Fire Department / Supplied

The Saskatoon Fire Department is reminding residents of the dangers of using extension cords as a permanent means of wiring after a fire Saturday night.

In a news release, the fire department said they received a 911 call at 6:10 p.m. about a possible fire in the kitchen of a convenience store on 25th Street and 2nd Avenue.

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According to the statement, the first arriving crews reported a fire in the adjoining business in the centre of a strip mall.

The battalion chief conducted a complete walk around the structure while firefighters hooked up the hydrant and went into the middle business where the bulk of the fire was noted. The release said the battalion chief could see heavy smoke from the front and back of the business.

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All utilities and service station pumps on the property were shut down for scene safety and precautions. SaskEnergy and Saskatoon Light & Power attended the scene to make sure utilities would not be a hazard or a safety concern.

At 6:25 p.m., the ceiling collapsed inside the business where the bulk of the fire was burning. Crews backed away for safety and continued to extinguish the fire from safe locations.

At 6:30 p.m., it was found that the roof was sagging and the battalion chief called for all firefighters to leave the structure due to the risk of the roof collapsing.

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Fire crews continued to extinguish the fire from ladders against the building and the ladder unit without going onto the roof.

There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians as a result of the fire. It has been deemed accidental and damage is estimated at $500,000.

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Later in the night, the fire investigator and police investigator were able to safely enter the front of the business and conduct a scene examination.

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Investigators determined the cause and source of the fire was an extension cord plugged into a timer that was being served by another extension cord.

An updated release from the fire department said multiple extension cords were found throughout the business.

Investigation determined the fire travelled along the cord and spread up the wall and into the ceiling, catching the roof components on fire.

The property has since been turned over to the property owner’s agent who is responsible for securing the structure.

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The fire department is taking this opportunity to educate residents — safe practice is to have all small and large appliances plugged directly into an outlet. Extension cords should be used only as a temporary source of electricity.

Interior extension cords should not be plugged in for long periods of time. The fire department says they need to be unplugged so they don’t overheat internally or overload an electrical circuit and cause a fire.

Exterior extension cords are heavily insulated to weather the cold to supply electricity outside, like to vehicles during the cold months, for example. The cooler weather allows the wiring to stay cool internally.

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Always check the condition of your extension cords to make sure they aren’t frayed, damaged or showing signs of aging, the fire department added.

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