Northwest Indiana Times
December 18, 2003
Faulty heat tape causes morning fire
Fire chief advises those who use tapes to check them every winter.
BY JOYCE RUSSELL
Times Staff Writer
PORTAGE -- A resident of a mobile home in the 5100 block of Wessex in Ingram
Manor Mobile Home Park got lucky Wednesday morning.
While the resident slept inside, a maintenance crew spotted a fire
underneath the mobile home and called the Fire Department.
The department received the call at 10:12 a.m. but the blaze had gone out by
the time firefighters arrived, Portage Fire Chief Tim Sosby said.
A faulty wire started the fire, which Sosby said caused extensive damage to
the underside of the mobile home and went up a wall of the trailer.
It probably will be the first of two or three calls the department will get
this winter about fires caused by heat tapes used to keep exposed pipes
under mobile homes from freezing.
"Every time it gets cold and stays cold we get fires caused by the heat
tapes," Sosby said.
If the heat tapes are installed correctly and insulated, they do the job
they are supposed to without any problems. But, Sosby said, if they aren't
checked each year, they could crack or fray and cause a fire.
"Sometimes they burn the whole trailer down," he said. "They are an
excellent source of fire."
Sosby advised those who use heat tapes to check them every year and make
sure there are no cracks, that they're insulated properly and in working
order. Another concern are the older heat tapes that may be used on some
mobile homes. They aren't equipped with thermostats and never turn off,
causing them to overheat and become a potential fire source.
Joyce Russell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 762-4334.