February 25

Wood stove cited as cause of Clinton mobile home fire

An improperly installed wood stove caused a fire that destroyed a Clinton mobile home Monday night, according to Lt. Mark Bellaire, of the Clinton Fire Department.

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

CLINTON — An improperly installed wood stove caused a fire that destroyed a mobile home Monday night, according to a Fire Department official.

click image to enlarge

GONE: On Tuesday, a man looks into a mobile home at the intersection of Johnson Flat and Bush roads in Clinton that fire destroyed Monday evening.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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HOMELESS: Homeowner Ken Whitt speaks to a friend on Tuesday from inside a recreational vehicle hours after fire destroyed his mobile home in Clinton. Whitt said he plans to rebuild.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Guidelines for heating with wood stoves

The National Fire Protection Agency has established standards for the installation and ventilation of wood stoves, which can be found under section 211 of the NFPA Codes and Standards.

In addition, the Office of the State Fire Marshal provides recommendations for heating with wood stoves, including specific clearances and measurements for installation.

The fire, which was reported by a passer-by around 8 p.m. Monday, had engulfed the home at 651 Johnson Flat Road by the time firefighters arrived on scene, said Lt. Mark Bellaire, of the Clinton Fire Department.

The home belongs to Ken Whitt, who would not comment Tuesday except to say that he plans to rebuild the home. The home was destroyed and it was not insured, Bellaire said.

The department could not verify that the wood stove in Monday’s fire had been installed correctly, and it did not appear to have proper ventilation, Bellaire said.

“A lot of people do try to cut corners on heating when they really shouldn’t,” he said. “It is very difficult to comply with standards for installing a wood stove in a mobile home and in most cases is illegal.”

In order for a wood stove to be used in a mobile home, the product has to be marked as being tested and able to be installed in a mobile home, said Rich McCarthy, assistant fire marshal at the Office of the State Fire Marshal. There is no state or federal list of suitable products, so consumers must check with a salesperson or on the product itself when they are making a purchase, McCarthy said.

“The problem is that most people probably don’t say that,” McCarthy said. “If you’re buying it from a reputable company, they will probably ask you where you are going to put it; but not everyone will.”

Mobile homes are wrapped to be very energy-efficient, which can contribute to rapid combustion when wod is burning inside, McCarthy said. An “unlisted stove,” or one that has not been tested and approved for mobile home use, should not be used inside a mobile home, he said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association have published standards for installation of and ventilation around wood stoves, he said.

No people were at home when the fire was reported, but the owner had several cats that were inside, and firefighters don’t know whether the animals survived, Bellaire said.

When firefighters arrived, flames were showing on the outside of the structure, he said. Firefighters struggled with sub-freezing temperatures and remained on scene until after midnight, Bellaire said.

Firefighters from Albion, Burnham, Canaan, Fairfield and Winslow also responded.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368 rohm@centralmaine.com
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