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Wiring in car caused fire last week

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news Farmington, 55024
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Faulty wiring in a parked car has been identified as the cause of an Oct. 17 fire that destroyed an east Farmington home.

The fire, which was reported at about 1:15 a.m., spread quickly. Though it was under control within an hour, firefighters were unable to save the residence on the 1300 block of Walnut Street.

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Because there was little more left than a charred frame to the home, Farmington fire marshal John Powers was unable to begin an investigation until five days after the fire. A crane and backhoe had to be brought in to remove debris, and three walls from the second floor had to be removed from the garage area before he could begin.

From the night of the fire, investigators suspected the blaze began in the garage. After sifting through the remains there, Powers confirmed that. There were two vehicles in the garage -- an older model Cadillac and a 2003 Ford Escape. Powers said the point of origin was the Cadillac.

According to Powers, the Cadillac had a pinched wire under the hood. The damage caused the insulation surrounding the wire to break down. It heated up, then started the combustible plastic material surrounding the wire on fire.

One thing that had bothered Powers initially was the question of why the house had burned so quickly. That was answered, in part, when he listened to the 911 call and when he talked to the residents who lived there. The couple reported, both in the 911 call and to Powers, that the garage door had opened while they were fleeing the home. Powers suspected the fire caused the garage door opener to melt away or malfunction. Once the fresh air hit the flames inside, the flames spread to the front of the house.

"Once the fire got to the exterior of the house, the front vinyl siding caught on fire," he explained. "When vinyl melts, it turns into a petroleum-type material."

Powers and the homeowner's insurance agents have ruled the fire accidental.

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Farmington Independent 651-463-7730 customer support
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