On Thursday January 19, 2017, at approximately 6:40AM, the Prescott Regional Communications Center received notification of a “wall heater fire” in the Prescott Highlands neighborhood in central Prescott. The caller reported that a wall heater was on fire on the back porch of their home. The dispatcher advised them to evacuate the home and the 10 occupants exited without incident and were outside when fire units arrived. An initial response of 3 Engine Companies, a Truck Company, as well as a Battalion Chief, a Support truck, Prescott Police and Life Line Ambulance were dispatched. En-route, the information was updated to report that the fire was behind a gas fireplace in the home.
The first arriving engine company reported nothing showing from an approximately 3100 square foot, two-story home. Upon entering the home, light smoke was encountered. Upon reaching the rear of the structure, flames were seen coming from the gas chimney vent. Crews breached the ceiling over the fireplace where they found active flames in the wall behind the gas fireplace and in the attic. Water was applied to the fire and a knockdown was achieved in a couple of minutes. Crews then pulled ceilings and walls from inside and outside of the home to completely extinguish the fire, as well as cutting a ventilation hole in the roof to vent out the smoke and hot gasses that were built up in there. Units were on the scene for approximately two hours assuring that all affected areas were out and cold.
The investigation determined that there was a failure of either the gas fireplace itself or of the chimney and venting system of the fireplace. Since all those components were in an enclosed area, no human factors or actions appear to be involved.
There were no injuries to residents or emergency personnel on this incident. Damage is estimated at $20, 000 to the $330,000 home. The fire damage was limited due to the quick action of the resident that called 911 as soon as they noticed a problem. When occupants take time to try to determine the extent of the problem before calling 911, it delays the fire departments ability to respond quickly and limit the extent of the damage. The house did have working smoke alarms that were sounding when fire department units arrived. Residents are encouraged to check their home smoke alarms, replace the batteries in them annually, and have licensed contractors check heating appliances in their homes for proper function and installation if they have any questions about their operation.