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Microwave oven sparks Clear Spring house fire

February 27, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

CLEAR SPRING - A fire caused by a failed microwave oven forced a St. Paul Road family to stay elsewhere Tuesday night.

"I heard an explosion," said Joyce Krause, of 14646 St. Paul Road. "I heard my little girl holler the kitchen was on fire."

Krause, her 4-year-old daughter, and her 21-month-old grandson made it safely out of the house, she said.

"I'm just thankful they got out," said Krause's husband, Michael.

Krause said he'd never heard of a microwave oven failing and causing a fire.

The microwave was not being used at the time, but it was plugged in, Deputy State Fire Marshal Bruce Shafer said.

The fire, called in at 2:45 p.m., was mostly in the kitchen, Shafer said. The two-story, brick home had approximately $15,000 in damage from the fire. That does not include damage caused by smoke and heat, he said.

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There's always power going to the microwave oven, even when it's not in use, Shafer said.

"Anything can fail," even a light bulb, Shafer said.

Just in case an electrical appliance does fail, Shafer said residents should have a working smoke detector on every level of their home. The Krauses' smoke detector was activated.

Shafer did not know if a recall had been issued for the 7-year-old microwave's model.

A nearby kerosene heater did not contribute to the fire, Shafer said. The outlet into which the microwave was plugged did not overload, he said.

The explosion Joyce Krause heard was probably a short in the electrical system when the microwave failed, he said.

Approximately 25 firefighters from Clear Spring, Maugansville and Mercersburg, Pa., responded to the fire, just south of the Pennsylvania state line, Clear Spring Assistant Fire Chief Rick Rowe said.

The fire was under control within 15 minutes, according to the state fire marshal's office.

Firefighters boarded up the front and back doors. An American Red Cross disaster relief team also assisted the family.

Krause said she, her husband and her daughter would stay with family Tuesday night. The family has the home insured and will have it repaired.

They also will have a microwave, Michael Krause said.

"It's too convenient to heat leftovers," Krause said. He'll just unplug it from time to time, he said.

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