Chief’s Corner: Electrical malfunction leading cause of garage fires

Mike Brown

Every year, there are about 6,600 garage fires in homes that result in an average of 30 deaths, 400 injuries and $457 million in property loss.

Of these fires, 93 percent occurred in one and two-family homes. The leading cause of garage fires is electrical malfunction. This can be due to shorts in wires, damaged wires and overloading electrical outlets.

Keep your home safe by following a few easy tips:

• Store oil, gasoline, paints, propane and varnishes in a shed away from your home.

• Keep items that can burn on shelves away from appliances.

• Plug only one charging appliance into an outlet.

• Don’t use an extension cord when charging an appliance.

Garage safety through construction — install:

• A 20-minute fire-rated door that is self-closing and self-latching from the garage into the house.

• A ceiling made with 5/8-inch Type X gypsum board (or the equivalent) if you have living space above the garage.

• A wall with ½-inch gypsum board (or the equivalent) if the wall attaches the garage to your home.

• An attic hatch cover if you have attic access from the garage.

• A heat alarm (not smoke alarm) in your garage. The heat alarm will sound if the temperature rises too high.

Learn more about what type of heat alarm is best for garage installation at

“Chief’s Corner” is a regular feature in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Mike Brown, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.

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