PLAINVILLE - An improperly placed space heater touched off a house fire on Diamond Avenue Monday morning that displaced two women and several dogs, fire officials said.
A woman sleeping in the master bedroom at 104 Diamond Ave. awoke at 6 a.m. to crackling and realized the room was on fire, Fire Marshal Larry Sutherland said.
At the same time, a neighbor, who is in the Army, saw the fire’s glow and smoke and went through the front door to make sure the residents were awake and got out safely, Sutherland said.
“Kudos to the neighbor,” the fire marshal said. “He made sure everyone got out safely.”
Two cats died in the blaze, but neither woman was injured.
The dogs are being temporarily taken care of by the Plainville animal control officer, Sutherland said.
The women were meeting Monday with the American Red Cross, which will help them find lodging.
Sutherland said initial reports indicate that the fire was started by a space heater placed too close to combustible material.
The bedroom was heavily damaged by the fire, while the rest of the home sustained considerable smoke and water damage, making it uninhabitable until extensive repairs are done.
The blaze is troubling, Sutherland said, because it’s the fourth house fire in two months causing by the improper use or installation of alternative heating sources.
In the three other fires, an improperly installed wood stove caused a fire that led to extensive damage, he said.
An improperly installed wood stove also caused extensive damage to an industrial building on Cronk Road a few weeks ago.
“We can’t stress enough that if you have an alternative heating source, you need to make sure it’s properly installed,” Sutherland said.
Wood or pellet stoves should be installed by a professional who has a permit from the municipal building department, he said.
The work should be inspected by the town when complete, he added.
“What we are seeing is that the flue pipes are being installed too close to wood materials, and with use, the wood dries out and eventually causes a fire,” Sutherland said.
With this morning’s fire, there have been 10 people displaced in the past two months and more than $2 million worth of damage done to houses and the industrial buildings by fires that were preventable, he said.
Residents should have working smoke detectors and make sure to use space heaters at a safe distance from anything that could catch fire.
People should also call 911 immediately and get out of the house if there is a fire, he said, and not try to put out the flames themselves.
“I hope we don’t have to lose someone for people to take this seriously,” he said.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.