Indianapolis resident, Alice Helterbrand woke to a shock early Sunday morning when her furnace exploded, causing the total destruction of her home and the loss of several exotic birds. The explosion was so destructive that Ms. Helterbrand had to be rescued by neighbors through a hole in her wall. The home was determined to be a total loss, estimated at a value of $140,000. A neighboring home suffered about $20,000 in damage due to the flames and heat.
Helterbrand’s daughter informed officials that the furnace had been making a funny sound for several days.
Miraculously, no one suffered serious personal injured, as all other family members were staying with friends for the night.
While no life was lost, this fire is a sobering reminder of the destruction that can come from fire. As Indiana personal injury attorneys, we encourage residents to take fire safety seriously. Smoke detectors and extinguishers are important equipment that every home should have. Regular furnace maintenance is also an important part of preventing home fires. That is why we are pleased that Indianapolis’ local gas utility, Vectren Energy, provides some good advice for keeping customers safe in these cold, winter days.
If you smell gas, you should leave your home immediately and seek assistance by utility professionals. Do not return home until the utility company has confirmed that it is safe to do so. Even a small gas leak may result in an explosion. In addition, Vectren suggests the following if you smell gas you should avoid using the phone, electrical items (light switches and appliances), or to relight the pilot light.
In addition, it is important to have your gas appliances in proper working order. Before winter arrives, it is a good idea to have your furnace serviced by a qualified professional heating contractor. Replace dirty furnace filters, worn belts, broken switches, and manual thermostats as necessary.
In addition to regular maintenance, a homeowner can follow these simple steps to prevent furnace fires:
– Keep the area around your furnace clean.
– Keep the burner clean.
– Lubricate motors and bearings .
– Remove anything close to the vent pipe.
– Keep house vents open to prevent unnecessary restriction to the furnace.
– Keep paint and gasoline away from the furnace.