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Flooded basements, leaky roofs can increase fire danger

Flooding indirectly led to a fire in Golden Valley on Friday.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — In addition to water damage, some Minnesota homeowners fighting flooded basements and leaky roofs have now been dealing with fire and smoke damage.

Flooding indirectly led to a fire in Golden Valley on Friday.

"The homeowner was in the process of drying out a wet basement," said Golden Valley Fire Chief, John Crelly. "Either the dehumidifier or the box fan that was being used to dry the carpeting out, one of those devices, caught on fire."

And it's not the only time, or way, the wet weather has contributed to fires. Heidi Kingman says her home in Blaine started fire last week. She says a fire investigator told her an ice dam on the roof, may have seeped into the fuse box.

"He just said, this year, because of the excessive amounts of snow and water, that there have been a lot of fires," Kingman said. "And that there will probably be more."

"Last week we heard a number of stories with water coming out of ceiling fixtures," Crelly said.

If water is seeping in near electrical circuits, Crelly says it's important to call an expert. If your water problem is coming up from below, he says you want to monitor your equipment. Frequently check on or test your sump pump, change filters on dehumidifiers so they're not overworked, and make sure fans are plugged directly into the wall and are up to the task.

"Read and follow the manufacturer's guidelines," Crelly said. "And don't overload outlets. Any time you start creating an electrical system to support that appliance, you add risk."

Crelly says it's also critical to make sure you have working smoke detectors near any drying work you are doing. If you haven't changed the batteries yet this spring, now is a good time.

Luckily, Crelly says the owner of the home that caught fire in Golden Valley heard the smoke detector and called in the fire department before opening the door.

"By keeping the house closed up, that kept the problem contained and small," Crelly said. "Everybody is okay."

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