Overloaded Extension Cord Causes Fire

Firefighters were rousted out of bed for a possible house fire on Dearborn Ave. early morning on August 11. It seems an extension cord plugged into a window air conditioner on the first floor and into an outlet in the basement had overheated, starting a chair on fire. A container of plastic kid's blocks was also melted where the cord wrapped through it.

The fire had been extinguished when fire units arrived, but the home was charged with smoke. A positive pressure fan was used to rid the home of smoke. One resident was checked out by paramedics on the scene, but was not transported.

Manufacturers instructions on window air conditioners say do not use an extension cord!

If you must use an extension cord, it should be short, and designed for use with an appliance with a heavy conductor in it. Most household extension cord are made for economy, not for such performance.

Anytime you run electricity through a cord, there is loss of voltage. The loss of voltage depends on the length of the cord, the size of the conductor in the wire, and the amount of current used by the appliance.

An AC uses a relatively large amount of power, and could be easily damaged by the low voltage available to it at the end of the extension cord.

http://www.nfpa.org/newsReleaseDetails.asp?categoryid=488&itemId=43193