Winnipeggers being advised to not plug cars in while parked inside following house fire

A Winnipeg home with an attached garage burned in the city and firefighters believe it was because the vehicle inside was plugged in. Mike Albanese shares a warning from firefighters about the dangers of plugging in indoors.

By Mike Albanese

When it’s freezing outside, an extension cord and your block heater are your car’s best friend — but there is a time and a place for plugging in.

Winnipeg firefighters are warning the public, the time to plug in, is not “while it’s parked in your garage.” This, after a fire began in the garage of a Winnipeg home on Sachet Place.

“The ambient temperature might be cold – but it’s not worth plugging it in, whether it’s attached or detached,” said Derek Grignon, Public Education Officer.

“Unless you’re a firefighter or if it’s happened to you, you don’t realize these things can overheat, or get too hot and cause a fire.”

Following an investigation into the fire that ruined the home, firefighters say they believe the cause was the vehicle being plugged in indoors.

Aftermath of a house fire that firefighters say they believe started due to a car being plugged in inside a garage.

“It’s something that can really be dangerous in a domestic setting, and we really need to consider the pluses and minuses of plugging it in right?”

Fortunately no one was injured in the blaze. A damage estimate is also not yet available, but damages are clear on the front of the home and the attached garage. Grignon says this is actually a common fire they attend in the winter.

“The most dangerous time is at night, you’re sleeping, your car is parked there it overheats, the wire overheats, the block heater is not meant to be in that warm weather and it starts a fire and you may not know there is a fire there for a while. That’s the big concern.”

Frank Motors owner says many people use their block heater when they don’t have to.

“If the battery is new, and fully charged and regularly serviced – it shouldn’t be a problem. I would suggest around minus 20 to have a battery maintainer plugged in itself,” said Milan Paskas, Frank Motors owner.

Paskas says every time a vehicle comes into their shop, they check the cord leading to the block heater for breakage but encourages drivers to check their own extension cords at home.

MPI is urging Manitobans to keep their extension cords in good condition., cover your block heater plug-in with its protective cover, and unplug your block heater by using the hard, rubber end before hitting the road.

Pulling on the electrical cord can cause breakage and potential electrical issues.

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