BEND, Ore. - Failed or overheated heat tape used to thaw water lines sparked a fire that caused $32,000 damage to a shed and home north of Bend Monday morning, leaving the home uninhabitable, officials said.
Bend Fire was dispatched to the structure fire around 6:40 a.m. at 20710 Bowery Lane, said Deputy Fire Marshal Cindy Kettering. They arrived to find a 12-by-12-foot shed fully ablaze and flames extending into the home, about five feet to the south, she said.
Firefighters were able to quickly control the fire and stop further damage to the residence. But the shed was a complete loss and the home was left uninhabitable due to fire, smoke and water damage, Kettering said, adding that the residents were being assisted by the American Red Cross.
Investigators found the log shed was built over a cistern, and heat tape was used to try to thaw frozen water lines. Kettering said the heat tape was wrapped around a rubber hose, and insulation was packed around it, with a rug placed over the top.
The occupant, Jerry Morris Jr., reported having issues with the heat tape not working properly, and Kettering said it appeared the heat tape overheated or failed, causing nearby combustibles to ignite.
The fire official reminded residents to always follow manufacturers' instructions when using heat tape, and to check it regularly, as it can deteriorate and crack over time, exposing the electrical wiring.
Also, Kettering said, heat tape should never be used over thermal insulation, or next to combustible materials.
For more information on home fire safety, contact your local fire agency. Bend residents can contact Bend Fire & Rescue at (541) 322-6309.