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Deck Fires are Keeping Fire Departments Busy - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Deck Fires are Keeping Fire Departments Busy

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Metro area firefighters have been kept busy dealing with more than a half of a dozen deck fires in the past three weeks. Valley News teams Eric Crest helps us re-examine how more often than not, these types of fires are started.

Over the last month fires have been happening on decks across Fargo, West Fargo, and Moorhead and they've been keeping fire fighters busy.

Dane Carley the Fargo Fire Departments Battalion leader says deck fires have absolutely picked up, "the last week or so we've had five or six deck fires."

On Thursday West Fargo's Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider told Valley News Live about his most recent run in with a deck fire, "one of the children looked out and saw flames shooting out on the deck so they're fortunate they got out when they did."

Firefighters will be the first to tell you more often than not these types of fires start because of cigarettes that weren't properly put out.

Chief Schatschneider says that's all too often the case, "a lot of the deck fires we see are attributed to careless disposal of smokey material, ashes and stuff like that."

While Carley says his department experiences the same thing, "some attributes to smoking and with the summer weather I think people are getting outside smoking on their decks."

The material used to build your deck also plays a factor. While some prefer the look of wood to plastic like PVC, the two burn very differently. Wood obviously is capable of going up faster. Pots that plants rest in are not a good ashtray either. They're basically kindling for the beginnings of a fire, so try a metal can instead.

"Use a metal container with sand in it and empty it regularly. But once a fire starts on your balcony you're responsible for a lot of that damage. If there's no renters insurance it's gonna hurt ya. So be careful with smoke on your deck," says Carley.

The last rule of thumb is if you are going to grill you're going to want to have about ten feet between the siding, rail and the grill itself. But if you have limited space like on a apartment deck, the number one thing you can do is make sure the grill is turned off and there's no hot coals inside.

Besides protecting your deck from fire, make sure you're not putting too much weight on it either. Like an oversized above ground pool. If you don't have proper support underneath your deck, it could topple. When you build it, let the contractor know what you plan on putting on it. If the deck is already in place you can contact a city engineer to find out if it's safe to do.

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