WESTFORD — The Westford Fire Department (WFD) responded to a report of a electrical fire at a home on West Prescott Street in Westford on Friday, after the homeowner noticed that black smoke had filled the house as they opened the front door.
Fortunately, the homeowner was able to extinguish the fire by the time firefighter arrived at the scene, preventing any further spread of the flames and smoke, as well as any further damage.
“A scary situation for one Westford family can be a valuable lesson for all,” the WFD stated on their social media on Friday.
Following a short investigation of the scene, firefighters determined that the electrical fire was caused by a poorly installed extension cord on an outdated power outlet, which short-circuited and triggered the fire that burned parts of the floor, wall, and window drapes.
“Electrical outlets in newer homes are required to have ‘three prong’ electrical outlets that have a ground slot centered below the two vertical slots,” the WFD explained. “The ground is a safety feature.”
“In the event of a malfunction, it allows electricity to take the path of least resistance to the ground, tripping the circuit breaker, and preventing an electrical shock or fire,” the department added.
Oftentimes, homeowners will buy adapters in order to use newer appliances with older electrical outlets which only contain two prongs. However, these adapters do not provide any protection against possible power surges or malfunctions, and therefore put the safety of the home at risk.
According to the WFD, the particular incident on Friday occurred due to “an electric fireplace [which] had been plugged into an ungrounded extension cord which was plugged into an older style ungrounded outlet, utilizing an adapter.”
Despite the fact that the electric fireplace was not in use at the time of the electrical fire, a malfunction with the adapter caused the cord to short circuit and burst into flames while the residents of the home were away.
“Protect yourself and your home. Check out these safety tips, and take a few minutes to check your electrical appliances at home,” the WPD explained. “If you have an older home with an older electrical system, contact a licensed electrician to find out what your options are to make your home safer.”
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