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Unplug the games

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chris Murphy

Staff Writer

An unattended PlayStation 2 caused a fire in a Cherokee Village home April 18.

The call came in to the fire station at 2:20 p.m. The fire was at 1 Pottawattamie Drive, the home of Larry and Sherry Edwards, said Fire Chief Mike Taylor.

The game system was left in the on position for an unknown length of time. The couple left the home about noon but it is unknown how long the station was left on before they left the house, he said.

"It appears it set the carpet on fire," Taylor said. "It basically caught fire from just sitting there."

The system burned a circle measuring 2.5 to 3 feet in diameter in the carpet of the home. It also caught a portion of a nearby bookcase on fire. The system melted.

The most damage is from the smoke the fire created.

"That house is going to have to be cleaned, everything, from top to bottom," Taylor said. "You could see tracks in the hardwood floors where the firefighters walked through to open windows."

No one was home when the fire began; however, the couple's son came home from school and saw the smoke. Thinking his mother was in the home, he walked through the house to find her and open windows.

"He's pretty lucky," Taylor said. "He's lucky he didn't succumb to the smoke."

Taylor said the young man had some markings common to smoke inhalation victims.

A man from Cherokee Acres drove by the home and made sure everyone was out of the house. He also closed the windows to contain the fire, Taylor said.

When the firefighters returned to the station, Firefighter Bob Zeiger located a recall for the power cord for some of the units, said Firefighter Kal Dienst. It is not known if the system that caught fire is one of the units listed on the recall because the serial number had melted off the system, he said.

Dienst said the unit was plugged into a surge protector.

"They were unaware anything like this could happen," Taylor said.

Dienst heard on the news recently that an X-Box had caught fire. Then just days later, firefighters learned first hand that the problem isn't exclusive to X-Box systems.

There are many types of game systems on the market, including PlayStation and PlayStation 2, X-Box, Wii, Nintendo and others.

"It's not uncommon to walk off and leave those things running," Taylor said, adding that he also has a PlayStation unit. "You turn the TV off and think everything is OK."

To prevent similar fires, Taylor said residents should turn off game systems when they are not in use. He also said they should not be placed on carpet.

"Almost everyone has some type of gaming system in their house," Dienst said. "These things can be a big danger."



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