Electric blanket caused fire at massage parlor in Tahoe City
June 28, 2017
Authorities have identified the cause of a fire in Tahoe City that left one person injured at the Henrickson Building.
The Jan 18. fire is believed to have started after an electrical blanket, suspended from a metal rod to cover a window, shorted and caught on fire, according to an incident report from the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District. The fire occurred in a business identified as a massage parlor.
"It was our opinion that the blanket shorted being suspended," said North Tahoe Fire Protection District Division Chief and Fire Marshal Todd Conradson. "It overloaded the extension cord wiring."
The report also noted the inside of the business looked as if several people had been living there, though it was not zoned for residential use. Inside the massage parlor, responders noticed items that aren't typically found inside of a business, including another electrical blanket and a twin size bed.
"There's no heat in the building so they had a portable heater, and two electric blankets," Conradson said. "They had an electric blanket draped over the window and other window covers as well. It was an attempt to keep warm."
The fire was small, according to the incident report. Crews responded to an activated smoke alarm at 2:32 p.m., and had the fire controlled by 2:54 p.m.
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Initial reports stated the district was able to put out the small commercial fire quickly that afternoon, and that no one was injured. The Sierra Sun attempted to follow up on the investigation in February, but the case was still open at the time. When the reports became available, they showed one person had been hurt in the fire.
Conradson said when the hanging electrical blanket caught on fire, one person attempted to pull it down. The person suffered minor injuries in the process, and the floor also caught on fire.
Longtime residents familiar with the building's past know that over the years the Placer County Redevelopment Agency cited the previous owner multiple times for code violations. A judge also ruled in 1993 that the second floor couldn't be occupied because it was built without permits. Since then, new owners have taken over the property, which was already headed for redevelopment after the Placer County Board of Supervisors and later the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency OK'd a proposal to build the 118-room Tahoe City Lodge on the property.
Despite the building's checkered past, Conradson said to his knowledge the business had all of its permits and the most recent fire inspection, completed in 2012, showed no signs that anyone was living there.
Placer County Supervising Building Inspector Kirk Smith said that the business has been reopened since April, without any issues.
"We told them that having beds in there was not allowed and sleeping in the business was not an appropriate use, and when we came to inspect the repairs to the fire they had been removed," he said.
Amanda Rhoades is a news, environment and business reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2653. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @akrhoades.