The Turlock Fire Department responded to a total of 514 incidents during the month of December. These included a total of 294 emergency medical service calls. Turlock Fire responded to 27 motor vehicle accidents, and 32 commercial/residential fire alarms. There were a total of 27 fire type calls: eight building fires, two cooking fires, two outside rubbish fires, one electrical wiring type fire, three excessive heat, scorch burn fires, nine unauthorized burnings, and two "special" outside type fires. Remaining incidents consisted of public assists, assist to police, animal problem, water or steam leak, smoke checks, gas leaks, haz-mat calls, and power lines down.
Noteworthy events for the month of December included an apartment fire. Upon arrival, Turlock Firefighters encountered heavy fire conditions in an upstairs apartment of a four-plex, with 20-foot flames issuing from three large roofline windows to the rear of the unit. Crews initiated an aggressive fire attack and search of the apartment, while California State University, Stanislaus police ensured everyone was out of the adjacent apartments. A volunteer firefighter from Gordo, Ala. was in the area and also assisted in ensuring everyone was out of the adjacent apartments (prior to the fire department's arrival).
Crews had the fire under control within 10 minutes of arrival, but it took about an hour to ensure it was completely out due to some extension and multiple void spaces. Investigators believe the cause to be electrical wiring, possibly Christmas lighting, that was too concentrated around lightweight combustibles. The fire started near the couch in the living room area. The fire caused major damage to the entire apartment and the estimated dollar loss for the whole four-plex is $120,000. This incident is a reminder of why everyone should practice electrical fire safety. Please review this month's fire safety message to help prevent this from happening to you.
SAFETY TIP: Fire deaths are highest in winter months due to more indoor activities and increases in lighting, heating, and appliance use. The bedroom is the leading area of fire origin for residential building electrical fires. However, electrical fires that begin in the living room/family room/den areas result in the most deaths.
• Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately. Do not try to repair them.
• Buy only appliances that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
• Major and small appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord. Unplug small appliances when not in use.
• If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
• Replace any electrical tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.
• Use only surge protectors or power strips that have internal overload protection and have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
• Keep clothes, curtains, and other items that can catch fire at least three feet from all portable electric space heaters.
• Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture.
• Avoid putting cords where they can be damaged or pinched by furniture, under rugs and carpets, or across doorways.
• Extension cords are for temporary use only. Have a qualified electrician determine if additional circuits or wall outlets are needed.
• Only a qualified electrician should do electrical work. Call an electrician if you have any of the following:
- Recurring problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers;
- A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance;
- Discolored or warm wall outlets or switches;
- A burning smell or rubbery odor coming from an appliance;
- Flickering lights;
- Sparks from a wall outlet; or
- Cracked or broken wall outlets.