Fire officials warn of electrical fires caused by floods - NBC40.net

Fire officials warn of electrical fires caused by Hurricane Sandy floods

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UPPER TWP. -

After a Friday morning fire in Strathmere, local fire officials are hoping to bring the topic of electrical fires caused by flood damage to the public's attention.

Fire officials have yet to determine the official cause but say flood damaged electrical wires may be to blame.

In an area that has been impacted by hurricane sandy and subsequent nor'easters, officials are warning residents of the dangers of wires exposed to water.

"The best advice I can give you is any time your electrical wires are compromised by flood, have it replaced," said Atlantic City Fire Chief Dennis Brooks.

Chief Brooks says the department has seen an increase in calls for electrical fires in the city recently.

He says the corrosive nature of salt water mixed with oil, fertilizer and other chemicals floodwater may pick up eats away at the protective lining around electric wires.

"Especially with Sandy, through any kind of flood waters. Its contaminated waters, it erodes away the jacketing of the wire. Water and electric don't mix, water conducts electricity, and then we have an issue."

While the fire in Strathmere is still under investigation, Chief Brooks in Atlantic City says nearly 41,000 electrical fires are responsible for 650 million dollars of damage and 336 deaths each year.

"Sometimes these systems don't fail immediately," said Chief Brooks.

 "It takes a little bit of time then bam and they have a problem. It may happen in the middle of the night, that's when we have these fatalities and the enormous structure damage and loss of life and everything that goes along with that."

Chief Brooks says it is not a question of if but when flood damaged wires will start a fire.

Despite the danger, Brooks says any qualified electrician can spot the danger, replace the wires and help to save your family and property.

"Its totally preventable," said Chief Brooks.

 "Again, if your wiring gets wet, have a qualified electrician inspect it and have it replaced and it won't be an issue."

FEMA is reminding anyone who used aid money to save their receipts or documentation for Sandy related expenses for at least three years in case of an audit.  For more information, click here.

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