Fan Malfunction Blamed For House Fire

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Lightning during the first monsoon of the season Saturday may have led to a box fan malfunction that sparked a small house fire on West Bridle Path Lane, fire officials said Monday.

The fire started shortly after lightning caused a brief brownout in that neighborhood.

"My son smelled smoke and when he went into his bedroom, saw the fire," homeowner Richard Lane said. "Apparently a fan in his room malfunctioned during the brownout and caused the fire."

Within two minutes of the call, crews from Payson Fire Department's north station arrived; the crew from the south station arrived seven minutes later.

"They were able to confine the fire to the bedroom, with only about $600 worth of damage," Payson Fire Marshal Jack Babb said Monday.

Whenever a brownout or power failure occurs, Babb said, residents should make sure that all unnecessary electrical appliances are unplugged to prevent damage and fire.

Residents also should make sure they have properly installed smoke detectors throughout their homes, Babb said. The Lane home had one smoke detector in operation.

"This is a good time to jump on my smoke detector soap box," Babb said. Smoke detectors are available from the fire department free of charge, he said, and fire officials will install them if that's what it takes to make sure every home in town is equipped with working smoke detectors.

"Something like this definitely makes you more acutely aware to make sure your smoke detectors are in operation," Lane said. "This could have been a catastrophe."

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