Electrical fires claim lives, property

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Fire investigators say electrical problems caused the flames at the Bridgeview Village on Monday. The US Fire Administration says electrical fires account for more than 28,000 fires a year. There are precautions you can take to protect your home and family.

The flames were shooting through the roof. Thomasina Bell says she got the call while at work, and when she got home she found out she lost all her belongings.

"I'm not more concerned about maybe a bed, or whatever. I'm more concerned about my precious, private things that I've collected through the years," Bell said.

Fire investigators say it was an electrical fire that destroyed or damaged 16 units in the apartment complex, Bridgeview Village.

Fire experts say the causes of electrical fires include faulty wiring, old wiring, light fixtures, or not using electric cords the right way.

"You can overload a circuit with all kinds of things, a surge protector, extension cords, the little cubes and you'll see folks take a surge protector, then put a cube in. So now you have five things plus a cube which holds four or five, way too much power coming out of one plug. That's going to cause you a problem at some point," North Charleston Fire Department spokesperson Bianca Sancic said.

Sancic says overloading outlets can lead to shorts which can cause fires, but to avoid it, don't overload the outlet.

Other precautions to take include: regular checks of your appliances, replacing electric tools that overheat, smoke, or spark, and using electric products evaluated in a national safety lab.

Bell says after learning it was a neighbor who overloaded an outlet at her apartment complex that started the fire, she'll be extra careful.

"I just want to let everybody know to be careful with electricity. Before you leave home make sure everything is unplugged, make sure everything is turned off," Bell said.

According to the USFA the death toll from electrical fires is more than 300 a year and more than 1100 people are injured.

Twenty-seven people were displaced after Bridgeview Village fire that broke out Monday, and some still have nowhere to go. Residents say the complex is working with tenants to find a new apartment.

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