Insurance Company Files Suit Against Winnebago for RV Fire

An insurance company filed a grievance on behalf of its client against a recreational vehicle manufacturer for alleged liability in a 2013 incident.

InsuranceClaimProgressive Classic Insurance Company, as subrogee of Jerry Harry, of Cleveland, Ohio, brought a complaint against Winnebago Industries, of Forest City, Iowa, on March 24 in Mason Circuit Court claiming negligence in a 2013 fire in its client’s recreational vehicle, reports The West Virginia Record.

According to the filing, Jerry Harry, who is insured by the plaintiff, purchased a 2012 Winnebago Vista 35F recreational vehicle on or about January 28, 2012.

A fire started in the RV on April 14, 2013. Following the incident and pursuant to the policy, Progressive compensated its insured party for the damages, estimated to be $126,661.17.

The suit contends that the RV was negligently designed and/or constructed at the point of manufacture.

Progressive cites the defendant with negligence and breach of warranty.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that the vehicle had defective electrical components, and claims breach of both express and implied warranty on the part of Winnebago.

The plaintiff seeks to recover damages for losses sustained in the fire in the amount of $126,661.17, plus statutory interest, attorneys’ fees, and costs.

Winnebago Vista 35F exterior in desert champagne full paint
Winnebago Vista 35F exterior in desert champagne full paint

The insurance company is represented by Rebecca Wright of Rathbone Group in Huntington. The case has been assigned to Judge Thomas C. Evans III.

Mason Circuit Court case number: 15-C-43

Worth Pondering…

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you.

—Henry Ward Beecher

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Space Heaters Deadly as Cause of RV Fires

Fire safety is essential when camping in your recreational vehicle.

Jesse Evans had already been pulled from this burning RV before volunteer firefighters arrived at the scene. (Credit: Norma Martinez/ rockportpilot.com)
Jesse Evans had already been pulled from this burning RV before volunteer firefighters arrived at the scene. (Credit: Norma Martinez/ rockportpilot.com)

In earlier posts I reported on space heater fires that destroyed RVs and caused the death of its occupants—both human and canine.

Following are recent reports on four RVs destroyed by fires that were caused by human carelessness.

Ohio: Space Heater Cause of Camper Fire

Mansfieldnewsjournal.com reports that a camper was destroyed in a fire caused by an electric space heater. A family of four was displaced after a fire consumed their Charles Mill Lake camper. Mark and Amy Snyder and their two children, Savannah, 10, and Taylor, 13, had been living in the camper for the past year.

“We lost everything (in the fire),” Mark Snyder said. “But everybody made it out alive, and that’s all that matters.”

The family’s two cats and a pet rabbit were killed in the fire, Mark said. The family dog survived.

Ashland County’s Mifflin Township Fire Department responded to the camper fire just after midnight, chief JJ Bittinger said. When crews arrived, the fire was fully engaged. Firefighters spent two hours dousing the flames and cleaning up. The camper and all of its contents are considered a total loss. Bittinger said firefighters attribute the cause of the fire to an electric space heater in the children’s bedroom.

Potential space heater fire (Source: familyhandyman.com)
Potential space heater fire (Source: familyhandyman.com)

Amy said everyone was asleep when the fire broke out in Savannah and Taylor’s bedroom. Savannah woke up to smoke in the room and started screaming “fire”. Amy’s rental car also was damaged in the fire.

Montana: Propane Heater Cause of Trailer Fire

Kxlf.com reports a man escaped from a camp trailer fire at the KOA Campground in Butte. The Butte Fire Department investigators who responded to the fire determined it was started by a defective propane heater in the trailer. The man managed to evacuate the trailer unharmed, but the vehicle was heavily damaged by the fire.

Texas: Propane Space Heater Causes RV Fire

Rockportpilot.com reports a small propane heater exploded in the face of a 78-year-old man who was attempting to light it in his RV, which was in an RV park. He was rescued from the burning RV by a neighbor.

The man, Jesse Evans, was checked at the scene by EMS personnel who noted he had burns to his face. He was transported to the EMS helipad then taken by HALO-Flight to a burn unit in San Antonio. Evans told paramedics he was attempting to light the heater when it exploded.

Washington: Space Heater Fire Cause of Trailer Fire That Kills Canadian Snowbird

Gazette-tribune.com reports a Saskatchewan man who winters each year in Oroville died in a fatal motorhome fire in Prince’s RV Park.

The Oroville Fire, Police and Ambulance departments, as well as an Okanogan County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to the scene at around 4:06 a.m., according to Sheriff Frank Rogers. When emergency personnel arrived they believed a subject was staying in the trailer but were not sure and the fire at the trailer was fully involved, said the sheriff.

“Once the fire was put out they discovered the body of Cornelius D. Friesen, 84, of Glenbush, Saskatchewan. The trailer belonged to Friesen, who comes down to Oroville during the winter and was living in the trailer. Detective Sloan from the Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene to investigate the cause,” said Rogers.

(Source: firesafetycouncil.com)
(Source: firesafetycouncil.com)

At this time it appears that the fire was caused by space heater in the trailer and Friesen was the only one in the trailer at the time of the fire.

9 Tips For Safe Operation of RV Space Heaters

1. Buy a space heater that is the correct size for the area that needs to be heated.

2. Buy a space heater with covers or guards over the working parts of the heater to prevent burns. This is especially important if you have children or pets.

3. Maintain at least three feet around space heaters and keep them out of the reach of children. and pets. Pets can easily knock them over or children can get burned on them.

5. Never leave a space heater turned on when going to bed or leaving the room or RV.

6. Ensure your space heater has tip-over protection and overheat protection, both of which will force a shut-off if there’s a problem.

7. Be aware that RVs require specially designated heating equipment and only electric or vented fuel-fired heaters should be used.

8. Plug space heaters directly into an outlet: don’t use extension cords or power strips.

9. To avoid fire and exposure to carbon monoxide, don’t use outdoor fuel heaters, like those meant for camping, indoors.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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Fires Destroy 4 RVs & Woman Falls From Moving RV

Whether camping or just relaxing in your recreational vehicle, fire safety is essential.

A late model diesel pusher motorhome exploded in flames and was completely destroyed as the blaze backed up commuter traffic. (Credit: mantecabulletin.com)
A late model diesel pusher motorhome exploded in flames and was completely destroyed as the blaze backed up commuter traffic. (Credit: mantecabulletin.com)

It is critical that every member of your party know what to do in a fire or other emergency. If you are one of the millions of RV enthusiasts who love to take to the road and explore the country, ensure your family’s safety while travelling in your RV.

Recent media reports detail four separate fires involving recreational vehicles.

Missouri: Refrigerator Compressor Cause of RV Fire

Republican-times.com reports that an RV was destroyed by a fire which is believed to have been caused by a mechanical problem in the operation of a refrigerator compressor.

A young child is being credited with alerting an adult to a fire that also saw two Trenton Fire Explorers take action to save the life of a cat caught in the blaze.
According to Trenton Firefighter Robert Romesburg, the owner of the camper said he was outside when he was informed by his neighbor that smoke was coming from the camper.

It was later learned that the neighbor had been alerted to the fire by his five-year-old son who saw smoke and fire coming from the camper.

California: Electrical Short Causes Motorhome Fire

Mantecabulletin.com reports that fire completely engulfed a 35-foot-long motor coach on northbound Interstate 5 near Manteca. It was apparently caused by a short in the wiring.

The fire destroyed most of the belongings of the retired Pennsylvania couple traveling up the state.

Flames destroyed a motorhome as it traveled through the north end of Pass Christian, Mississippi. A heater inside the motorhome was running and tipped over. (Credit: wlox.com)
Flames destroyed a motorhome as it traveled through the north end of Pass Christian, Mississippi. A heater inside the motorhome was running and tipped over. (Credit: wlox.com)

The driver told Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neeley that they were driving westbound on the Highway 120 Bypass when they took the transition ramp to northbound I-5. He said that all the electrical went out in the vehicle as they entered the northbound freeway. The retired middle school teacher said he got on the phone and called his emergency road service number as the fire broke out.

Flames had erupted from underneath the dashboard, he said, and they both got out of the vehicle as they came to a stop on the shoulder of the roadway. The couple said they emptied their small fire extinguisher with little affect in putting out the flames. The quick thinking driver ran to the back of the coach and unhitched a Jeep they had in tow.

Utah: Space Heater Causes RV Fire

Sltrib.com reports that a space heater is the cause of a fire in an older model recreational vehicle.

The fast-acting fire fighters of Salt Lake City managed to bring the fire completely under control in six minutes flat.

Salt Lake Fire spokesman Jasen Asay said a woman who lived in the RV off-and-on was not injured by the blaze. She turned on some space heaters Monday night, which investigators believe ignited something combustible in the vehicle.

Investigators estimated the damage at about $2,500. Most of the front of the vehicle was destroyed and the rear suffered heat damage. The fire did not threaten any other vehicles or buildings.

Mississippi: Heater Tips Over Destroying Motorhome

Wlox.com reports that flames ate through a motorhome as it traveled through the north end of Pass Christian. A heater inside the motorhome was running. When it tipped over, it caught some furniture on fire. The fire quickly spread, torching just about everything inside and outside the vehicle.

fire_safetyHarrison County’s fire chief Pat Sullivan said one person was in the motorhome when it was consumed by the fire. No word on his condition.

Minnesota: Woman Falls From Moving RV& Dies

Brainerddispatch.com reports that a 26-year-old woman died after she fell out the door of a moving recreational vehicle in Randall.

Through their investigation, Morrison County deputies learned that as the RV began to move, the passenger, apparently fell against the interior door, causing it to open, and allowing her to fall onto the pavement where she struck her head.

Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said, “While there was no sign of impairment obvious with the driver, the incident remains under investigation.”

The Morrison County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a medical emergency. Upon arrival deputies rendered emergency medical care. She was transported by ambulance to St. Gabriel’s Hospital, and later to St. Cloud Hospital.

Deputies were advised later that day by St. Cloud Hospital that she had passed away due to her injuries.

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

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Don’t Let Your RV Dreams Go Up in Flames

Ensure your family’s safety while traveling in an RV by following these fire safety guidelines.

Fire safety seminars conducted at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Fire safety seminars conducted at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s crucial to know your location so emergency responders can find you in the event of an emergency. Be aware of your location and surroundings and remember, SECONDS DO COUNT!

Confirm the local 911 emergency numbers for police, fire, and ambulance is available in the area.

Have at least two escape routes—one in the front and one in the rear of the RV.

Test all escape windows, hatches, and door latches for smooth operation and keep all escape windows, hatches, and doors clear of any obstructions.

As soon as they are old enough, teach children how to open escape hatches and emergency exits and have them practice.

Fire Escape Plan Guidelines

The first rule of RV firefighting is SAVE LIVES FIRST and property second.

Get yourself and your family to safety before attempting to extinguish any fire. Only if you can do so without endangering yourself or others should you use firefighting aids on hand.

Re-emphasize to everyone aboard that objects can be replaced, people can’t!

Never re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything—GET OUT & STAY OUT!

Install and maintain at least one smoke alarm in your RV near the sleeping area. Special 12v smoke alarms, designed specifically for RVs, are available from specialized retailers.

Install and maintain at least one carbon monoxide alarm in your RV near the sleeping area. Special 12v carbon monoxide alarms, designed specifically for RVs, are available from specialized retailers.

fire_safetyBe aware that residential style carbon monoxide alarms that plug directly into the electrical outlet require 110v power and would only work and sound an alarm when your RV is plugged into an electrical source at a campground, but would not function when you are on the road or operating off of your 12v battery supply.

Install a propane leak alarm at floor level, no more than six inches above the floor or lowest level to alert you in the event of a propane leak. Propane gas, like gasoline fumes, tends to pool in low-lying spots and even a small spark can ignite it.

If you have a leak, immediately evacuate the area and shut off the propane at the tank, if it is safe to do so.

Propane Fire Safety Guidelines

Ensure that all travelers in the RV know what the sound of each type of alarm indicates and what to do when they hear it.

Test all smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and propane leak alarms weekly when the RV is in use.

Install a fully charged multi-purpose or ABC fire extinguisher in a visible, easily accessible location near an exit where escape is also an option.

Make sure everyone knows where it is and how to use it.

If you already have a fire extinguisher installed, check the pressure gauge to ensure it is fully charged, indicated by the needle in the green area.

Also keep in mind that the dry chemical inside the extinguisher tends to pack down in the bottom of the extinguisher over time, which may make it ineffective. Once a month, check the gauge or pin for pressure, turn the extinguisher upside down, and hit the bottom sharply with your hand, and shake it well. This should dislodge any compacted dry chemical inside the extinguisher.

Most fire extinguishers have a lifespan of five to 15 years.

Remember, DON’T FIGHT A FIRE unless you call the fire department FIRST! A fire extinguisher is no substitute for the fire department.

Have your fuel-burning appliances checked at the beginning of each camping season to ensure they are properly vented, free of any obstructions such as cobwebs, bird nests, etc., and working well.

Driving with propane on can add to the danger if you are involved in an accident or have a fire. SHUT OFF THE PROPANE at the tank and turn off all propane-powered appliances while driving.

Most refrigerators will keep food cold or frozen for several hours, even when turned off.

Two dogs die in N.Y. camper fire. (Source: Mark Gutman/Daily News)
Two dogs die in N.Y. camper fire. (Source: Mark Gutman/Daily News)

When refilling the propane tanks it is important to shut off all interior burners, pilot lights, appliances, automatic ignition switches, and the RV—and have all passengers EXIT THE RV.

Whenever using the stove in your RV, open an overhead vent or turn on the exhaust fan and open a window a small amount to allow fresh air in and carbon monoxide gases out.

NEVER use the stove to heat the interior of the RV.

NEVER leave cooking unattended.

Keep all lighters and matches safely out of the reach of children.

Establish safe campfire rules to be followed when camping.

The above information is based on safety guidelines provided by Windsor (Ontario) Fire & Rescue Service.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-Part Series on RVs and Fire Safety

Part 1: Fires Destroy 7 RVs

Worth Pondering…

How a Fire Burns
In order for fire to occur, four elements must be present:
Fuel (wood, paper, cloth, gas, oils, fiberglass)
Oxygen (air at between 17% and 19%)
Heat (brakes, engine compartment, exhaust system, transmission)
Chemical Chain Reaction (batteries, refrigerator)
If any one of these four components are missing, a fire cannot burn.

—Mac the Fire Guy

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Fires Destroy 7 RVs

Fires Destroy 7 RVs

Propane blast destroys RV in Oklahoma (Courtesy: Dylan Goforth/Muskogee Phoenix)
Propane blast destroys RV in Oklahoma (Courtesy: Dylan Goforth/Muskogee Phoenix)

Whether camping or just relaxing in your recreational vehicle, fire safety is essential.

It is critical that every member of your party know what to do in a fire or other emergency. If you are one of the millions of RV enthusiasts who love to take to the road and explore the country, ensure your family’s safety while travelling in your RV.

Recent media reports detail seven separate fires involving recreational vehicles.

Florida: Garbage Truck Fire Destroys RV

The News-Press reports that a garbage truck fire spread to an RV and destroyed it at Red Coconut RV Park in Fort Myers Beach. The garbage truck caught fire as the result of a mechanical failure.

According to Dale Reisen, Chairman for the Lee County Arson Task Force, the fire started low, behind the cab and worked its way up very quickly. When the garbage truck went to pick up a dumpster, a fuel or hydraulic line broke and sprayed liquid onto the truck’s hot engine catching fire and that quickly spread to the nearby RV.

Riesen said the explosions heard were gas leaking from a propane tank on the RV. One family lost everything. The estimated cost in damages is close to $500,000,000. Both the RV and the garbage truck are a total loss. One person was treated and released for smoke inhalation.

Oregon: Man Suffers Extensive Burns in Camper Explosion (Courtesy: Springfield Police Department)
Oregon: Man Suffers Extensive Burns in Camper Explosion (Courtesy: Springfield Police Department)

Oklahoma: Propane Blast Destroys RV

The Muskogee Phoenix reports that the Mountain View Volunteer Fire Department firefighters put out a RV fire caused by a propane tank on fire, ending in an explosion. After stalling at an intersection the RV coasted a short distance when smoke began to billow out from under the hood.

Mountain View Chief Don Dailey said one of two propane tanks on the RV exploded, sending shrapnel into nearby fields. Neighbors reported hearing an explosion that sounded like a small bomb. No one was injured in the explosion or fire.

Utah: Two-Year-Old Dies in Camper Fire

Deseret News reports that a short in a spliced extension cord used to power a space heater inside a camper sparked a fire that killed a two-year-old girl in Uintah County.

Roosevelt Fire Chief Lee Rockwood said the body of the girl was found inside the burned out remains of the camper where she lived with her parents. Rockwood said the spliced extension cord, not the space heater itself, was responsible for the blaze. When firefighters reached the trailer nine minutes after receiving a call, it was fully engulfed in flames.

Oregon: Candle Blamed for Trailer Blaze

The Mail Tribune reports that a fire destroyed a travel trailer in White City sending a woman to the hospital with smoke inhalation and killing her pet cat.

Don Hickman, Jackson County Fire District No. 3 public information officer, said the fire started because the woman had been burning a candle and fell asleep. The candle was homemade with the wax pouring into an empty baby wipes container. It burned down to the point where it caught fire.

“We encourage folks, when they have candles, to make sure they’re on a noncombustible surface, and make sure it’s out before you go to bed,” Hickman said.

Oregon: Propane Ignites/Guts Motorhome

The Curry Coastal Pilot reports that a Harbor resident is without his home but alive after a fire gutted the inside of his motorhome at an RV park.

The resident had just turned on the propane to supply a water heater when the gas ignited and started a fire, said Harbor Fire Department Chief John Brazil. Firefighters were able to keep the fire from escaping the motorhome and spreading to nearby trailers and motorhomes.

Two-year-old dies in Utah camper fire (Courtesy: Geoff Liesik/Deseret News)
Two-year-old dies in Utah camper fire (Courtesy: Geoff Liesik/Deseret News)

Florida: Refrigerator Causes Camper Fire

The Northwest Florida Daily News reports that a camper trailer in front of a home caught fire. No one was injured but the camper was a total loss.

The RV was about 20 feet from the home. According to the Niceville Fire Department, a refrigerator unit short circuited causing 15 to 20 foot flames.

Oregon: Man Suffers Extensive Burns in Camper Explosion

Lane Today reports that Springfield Police and Springfield Fire and Life Safety responded to an explosion in an RV camper. Medics were already treating the owner for extensive burns when police arrived. Police say the injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.

Preliminary investigation indicates the explosion was likely caused by a gas leak from the refrigerator inside the RV and was triggered when the owner ignited the stove. No one else was injured in the incident.

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-Part Series on RVs and Fire Safety

Part 2: Don’t Let Your RV Dreams Go Up in Flames

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

Read More

Motorhome purchased on Craigslist explodes

In recent posts I reported that four small dogs died and an RV was destroyed in a fire caused by a propane space heater, space heaters destroyed pets and RVs in two separate fires, and six other RV fires resulted in two deaths.

buyer_bewareAir Force veteran Thomas Graley was driving a newly purchased motorhome through Phoenix when flames started shooting through the floor.

“I was coming down the road and the engine just caught on fire,” Graley told azfamily.com.
“All of the sudden flames just started coming out of the pedals,” added Graley’s wife, Candy.

The Graleys have been down on their luck. Air Force veteran Thomas Graley lost his job when the cellphone company he worked for merged with another company. They bought the motorhome so they would have a place to live as well as a vehicle.

“They foreclosed on my house and repoed my car so we bought this so I would have someplace to live,” he said with tears in his eyes.

Today, the Air Force veteran was able to sift through the rubble of the vehicle to salvage a few personal belongings, but nearly everything he owned was destroyed in the fire, azfamily.com reports.

The Graleys found the motorhome listed on Craigslist.

“It seemed like a good vehicle for the price,” Thomas Graley said.

The couple excitedly handed over their life savings of $1,000 to the Craigslist seller to purchase the motorhome so they could drive to Ohio to visit their daughter, who is due to give birth in February.

fraudPrevention“He said that it ran good and that it was road worthy and would make it to Ohio,” Candy Graley said.

Instead, the motorhome made it just a few miles before catching fire.

The Graleys have attempted to contact the seller numerous times with no response. 3TV went to the address listed for the Craigslist seller, but no one answered the door.

Unfortunately, the Graleys probably do not have much legal recourse, according to Phoenix attorney Brent Kleinman.

“Most likely he won’t be able to get any of his money back,” Kleinman said.

Kleinman said because the transaction occurred between two private parties, the seller did not have a duty to find defects in the motorhome.

“You’re buying that vehicle as is,” Kleinman said.

“The only recourse you have is if they try to intentionally deceive you.”

Thomas Graley said because the motorhome was brand new, it was not insured yet. So he believes he will be out his home, his vehicle, and the money he spent to purchase the motorhome.

“It was a thousand dollars,” he said.

“To other people it may seem like a small amount, but to us it was everything we had.”

Buyer Beware

The following core rules for using Craigslist are courtesy networketiquette.net.

Beware of the many scams that users may try. The Craigslist domain is known for counterfeit money orders, bad checks, stolen merchandise, and damaged goods.

Used is a keyword for stolen on Craigslist. Many people have located items stolen from them on the site.

rvThere are criminals who use Craigslist. Since criminals use Craigslist always meet in safe places to mitigate the chances of being victimized.

Follow your instincts when using Craigslist. Sometimes things just, “feel right” and sometimes things feel, “all wrong”. When using the Craigslist domain there are often warning signs that make a user, ‘feel’ like something is wrong before they discover they have been scammed.

If you do not feel totally comfortable with a transaction, wait one day. If the buyer or seller cannot wait it’s probably a bad deal.

Do not accept personal checks or money orders from Craigslist users. Craigslist has alerts about the check fraud that happens in the domain. Do not accept personal checks because of the risk of fraud. Many users make fake checks and money orders or forge blank ones to commit their scams.

Use similar caution when buying or selling on eBay.

Worth Pondering…

Travel safely…and stay away from road-gaiters and orange barrels.

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6 RV Fires Result in 2 Deaths

Whether camping or just relaxing in your recreational vehicle, fire safety is essential.

The fire in this 40-foot fifth-wheel trailer at Country Roads RV Park in Yuma originated in the trailer's battery storage compartment. (Credit: Yuma Fire Department)
The fire in this 40-foot fifth-wheel trailer at Country Roads RV Park in Yuma originated in the trailer’s battery storage compartment. (Credit: Yuma Fire Department)

It is critical that every member of your party know what to do in an emergency or fire.  If you are one of the millions of RV enthusiasts who love to take to the road and explore the country, ensure your family’s safety while travelling in your RV.

In earlier posts I reported that four small dogs died and an RV was destroyed in a fire caused by a propane space heater and space heaters destroyed pets and RVs in two separate fires.

RVs Burns in Grover Beach

A recent motorhome fire in Grover Beach, California, left the driver burned and the vehicle completely destroyed. More than a dozen firefighters and police officers responded and found the motorhome of David Jackson of Visalia on fire but not threatening any structures, reports the Santa Maria Times.

The 53-year-old Jackson had attempted to start the vehicle’s engine when it backfired, igniting an engine fire. Jackson was able to get out of the vehicle and refused medical attention for minor burns that he suffered.

Cat dies in RV fire. (Source: http://hardnewscafe.usu.edu/)
Cat dies in RV fire. (Source: http://hardnewscafe.usu.edu/)

Parked on an incline, the motorhome began rolling after Jackson jumped out. It came to a stop against some shrubbery and landscape boulders. Ten firefighters from the fire authority were able to douse the blaze, the cause of which still is under investigation.

The blaze was the latest in a series of motorhome and mobile home fires on the Central Coast.

3 RV Fires on the Central Coast Result in 2 Deaths

On January 7, an RV fire killed 73-year-old Karen Moreland of Morro Bay. Investigators determined that fire started in the kitchen of the motorhome that was being used as a permanent residence in the Rancho Colina Mobile Home Park, the Santa Maria Times reports.

On January 8, a fire broke out in the Laguna Lake Mobile Home Park in San Luis Obispo, causing explosions that rocked the neighborhood. No injuries were reported. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s investigators believe the fire was caused by a hash oil manufacturing process.

On January 16, 57-year-old Ronald Silveira of San Luis Obispo was killed in trailer fire near the San Luis Obispo Regional Airport.

Yuma firefighters respond to two RV fire calls and a car hitting a building

Firefighters from the Yuma Fire Department (YFD) recently responded to a call of two separate recreational vehicle fires that happened within 15 minutes of one another.

The first report was at Westwind RV and Golf Resort. When firefighters arrived on scene, they discovered that the owner had left a large bowl of beans on the burner of the stove, which caused a large amount of smoke, setting off the smoke detector. A neighbor who heard the smoke detector going off called 9-1-1 and reported a fire. Meanwhile, the RV owner was able to turn off the stove before anything caught fire, reports The Yuma Sun.

Don’t let your RV dreams go up in flames: Practice Fire Safety. (source: betterrving.com)
Don’t let your RV dreams go up in flames: Practice Fire Safety. (source: betterrving.com)

Mike Erfert, a YFD spokesman, said he wanted to remind the public that unattended cooking is the largest cause of home fires.

Later the same day, another RV on fire was reported, this time at Country Roads RV Park.

Upon their arrival, firefighters found flames coming from underneath a 40-foot fifth-wheel trailer. Erfert said the fire was quickly extinguished, but there was enough damage that it could not be reoccupied. Investigators determined the fire originated in the trailer’s battery storage compartment.

Worth Pondering…

An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.

—G.K. Chesterton

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More Space Heater Fires Destroy Pets & RVs

Whether camping or just relaxing in your recreational vehicle, fire safety is essential.

A fire started by a space heater in a travel trailer spread to a second trailer, a car, and a home just. (Credit: Avra Valley Fire Department)
A fire started by a space heater in a travel trailer spread to a second trailer, a car, and a home just. (Credit: Avra Valley Fire Department)

In an earlier post I reported that four small dogs died and an RV was destroyed in a fire caused by a propane space heater.

In today’s post I report on two RV fires caused by careless use of space heaters.

Arizona Fire Started by Space Heater

A fire started by a space heater in a travel trailer spread to a second trailer, a car, and a home in Picacho, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

When units from the Avra Valley Fire District arrived on scene they found heavy flames and smoke coming from a masonry-built home, Patrick Calhoun, spokesman for the fire district, said in a news release. A car and two travel trailers also were ablaze. It took two engines and two water tenders to extinguish the fires.

Potential space heater fire (Source: familyhandyman.com)
Potential space heater fire (Source: familyhandyman.com)

“The fire was believed to have had started in one of the travel trailers when the resident living in the travel trailer turned on a space heater,” Calhoun said.

The fire then spread to the house, car, and another travel trailer on the property. Damage is estimated at $225,000.

“The units from the Avra Valley Fire District went about eight miles out of our normal response area to fight the fire,” Calhoun said. “This is due to the fact that the town of Picacho is a no-man’s land for fire coverage.”

Calhoun warns that space heaters require at least three feet of clearance area around them. When selecting a space heater, he suggested buying one with a guard around the flame area or the heating element and one that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

Calhoun’s other tips include:

  • Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area that needs to be warmed
  • Ensure everyone knows how to property operate the heater
  • Never leave a space heater turned on when going to bed or leaving the room
  • Keep doors open when using a fuel-burning heater, to reduce the risk of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide accumulating
  • Be aware that RVs require specially designated heating equipment and only electric or vented fuel-fired heaters should be used

Pets Die in Space Heater RV Fire

A dramatic RV fire sent smoke into the air over Boise, Idaho. Firefighters were there within minutes, but they couldn’t save the trailer or the pets inside, reports KTVB.

Boise Fire Marshal Romeo Gervais says the fire started near the back of the RV where there were two space heaters. The owner indicated that one is left on all the time to keep her pets warm.

Gervais provided KTVB listeners with advice on what makes space heaters dangerous and how to use them safely.

Probably the biggest concern is clearance to combustibles and/or children or pets. When you deal with space heaters, you need to keep at least three feet or so clear around them and keep them out of the reach of children and pets. Pets can easily knock them over or children can get burned on them.

(Source: firesafetycouncil.com)
(Source: firesafetycouncil.com)

Plug space heaters directly into an outlet: don’t use extension cords or power strips.
Ensure your space heater has tip-over protection and overheat protection, both of which will force a shut-off if there’s a problem.

Purchase a space heater with covers or guards over the working parts of the heater to prevent burns. This is especially important if you have children or pets.

Space heaters, including wood stoves, are responsible for a third of all home heating fires, and four out of five deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Most of those fires were started because the heaters were too close to flammable things, like furniture.

In addition to space heater safety, Gervais says not to use ovens or stoves as heat sources. He also says to avoid fire and exposure to carbon monoxide, don’t use outdoor fuel heaters, like those meant for camping, indoors.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

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Propane Space Heater Fire Destroys RV & 4 Dogs

Studies show that fires in recreational vehicles, especially older units, tend to be more devastating than those in other forms of residence.

FIRE_119_t620
A portable space heater started the fire that consumed this RV. (Credit: The Spokesman-Review)

Heating and electrical system malfunctions are the leading causes of fire in RVs. Together, they account for one-third of the fires.

Four small dogs died and an RV was recently (January 15, 2013) destroyed in a fire blamed on a propane space heater in Spokane, Washington, The Spokesman-Review reported.

A man had been staying in an RV parked in a driveway and was inside the house watching television with the homeowner when they heard a noise, said Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford.

They found the RV in flames. “He was trying to get the dogs out and was unable to,” Clifford said.

The man was treated for smoke inhalation. Clifford said the dogs may have knocked the space heater over or knocked something flammable into it.

A propane heater also shouldn’t be used in an enclosed space because it emits carbon monoxide, which can be deadly, Clifford said.

Nothing much is left of the RV. “They burn so fast,” Clifford said.

“It’s just lightweight construction.”

Propane Space Heater Safety

carbon_monoxide-300x225The following information is provided courtesy of appliance retailer, Air & Water.

You and your family are camping, when someone experiences a sudden headache. Another person becomes nauseous. Suddenly, you realize everyone around you is sick—even you!

These are the first warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from the improper, unsafe use of portable propane heaters. Advanced exposure to carbon monoxide can result in:

  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Coma
  • Death

Clearly, the dangers of using a propane heater are real. However, does this mean all heaters that use this type of gas are dangerous?

Not at all! The answer is the same as for any other space heating device; that is, propane heating is perfectly safe as long as you follow proper directions and safety precautions.

It’s not difficult or time consuming to be safe.

What is a Propane Space Heater?

Propane heaters can come in two specific forms—freestanding or attachment. A freestanding model is all-encompassing, comprised of a base, body, and propane tank attachment that can be attached to a standard LP tank.

A space heater is simply one of many devices using LP gas.

Are Propane Heaters Safe?

Space_HeatersThe danger of propane comes not from the gas itself, but rather from its organic byproduct of combustion—carbon monoxide. Propane has a strong odor, allowing you to quickly discover a leak with a simple sniff. Carbon monoxide, however, is tasteless and odorless. This gas will compete with oxygen binding sites on the hemoglobin molecule, making it a safety hazard.

The actual risk is slight and injuries are uncommon from carbon monoxide poisoning. Since the early 1990’s, there have only been about 80 cases of serious carbon monoxide poisoning due to propane heater misuse.

Propane Space Heater Safety Guide

NEVER use in an enclosed space that’s too small for the corresponding propane heater size. No matter the size, all propane heating units generate CO as a natural byproduct. The most important thing is to determine an appropriately sized heater for your RV.

Reduce the risk in your RV by following these safety guidelines:

  • ENSURE that the heater is installed properly so that it doesn’t leak fuels, will run properly, and all safeguards are functioning
  • TEST your smoke alarm, carbon monoxide alarm, and propane alarm once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year
  • KEEP all combustible substances away from the heater
  • ENSURE that the heater will not be accidentally knocked over
  • ALWAYS provide ventilation by cracking a window or vent when the heater is in use
  • NEVER use a space heater when sleeping or when unattended

Worth Pondering…

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Norcold Over RV Refrigerators

Thousands of consumers in California and Florida that purchased Norcold recreational vehicle and boat refrigerators are now finding out these products may have a design defect making them a fire hazard risk, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based law firm recently announced.

Zimmerman Reid36018_3738Zimmerman Reed represents RV owners that recently filed a lawsuit alleging that Norcold knew of the RV refrigerator fire risk, but hid that information from the public. People who purchased a Norcold-brand gas absorption refrigerator are being asked to contact the firm to find out if they have a legal claim.

Through this class action Plaintiffs challenge the unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices of Defendants in connection with their designing, manufacturing, assembling, promoting, marketing, supplying, selling, recalling, retrofitting, and otherwise placing into the stream of commerce gas absorption refrigerators for use in RVs.

According to the complaint, since at least 1997, Defendants have designed, manufactured, assembled, sold, and otherwise placed into the stream of commerce three models of gas absorption refrigerators for installation and use in RVs, including six cubic feet (the “N6” Series), eight cubic feet (the “N8” Series), and twelve cubic feet (the “1200” Series), all of which share common design and manufacturing defects.

The complaint further indicates that Defendants’ gas absorption refrigerators have caused and/or contributed to at least 2,000 fires since 1999, resulting in over $48 million in property damage claims, personal injuries, and at least one death. As of the date of this complaint, defendants are receiving new fire claims involving their gas absorption refrigerators at a rate of 1 to 2 per day.

3-way_cycleAll of Defendants’ gas absorption refrigerators share the same technology, which involves a process whereby a solution of ammonia, water, sodium chromate, and hydrogen gas is heated by electricity or propane until it boils (approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit), releasing ammonia gas.

The gas circulates through a series of tubes at approximately 450 psi. As the ammonia gas is first condensed to liquid, and then evaporated through interaction with the hydrogen gas, heat is removed from the refrigerator box, causing the temperature in the box to decrease and providing the refrigeration effect. The series of tubes is referred to as a “cooling unit”, and includes the heat source (propane and electric), as well as a condenser, evaporator, absorber, and solution tank.

Fires are caused when defects in the refrigerator design release the flammable gases, which can then explosively ignite and spread quickly through the refrigerator compartment and into the passenger area of the RV.

In 2000, the company issued a series of limited product safety recalls for their Norcold RV refrigerator, and that if retrofitted with a thermal sensor, the refrigerators would be safe to use.

672_stIn fact, this so-called fix caused further harm to consumers by retrofitting the defective refrigerators with a device that masks the defects by disabling the electronic controls within the refrigerator before the refrigerator has a chance to ignite a fire. The harm caused by this is felt when the refrigerator malfunctions and fails, and the retrofit device permanently disables the electronic controls, the law firm claims.

The firm has filed a class action lawsuit in with the Superior Court of California seeking a jury trial.

Details

Norcold Class Action Complaint

To read the entire Norcold Class Action Complaint, click here.

Zimmerman Reed

Zimmerman Reed was founded in 1983 and has tailored its thinking to meet the needs of its clients and the public.

Over the past twenty years, Zimmerman Reed has represented tens of thousands of clients in both individual and class action cases.

A class action is a legal tool which allows individuals who have experienced a common injury to assert their claims in an affordable and efficient manner. Class actions deter businesses from using deceptive business practices or finding a way out of accountability by committing multiple “minor” violations. The class action empowers individuals who have been wronged but cannot afford to engage in lone combat against a powerful defendant and all its available resources.

Address: 1100 IDS Center, 80 South 8th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

Phone: (612) 341-0400 or (800) 755-0098 (toll free)

Website: zimmreed.com

Worth Pondering…

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
—Margaret Mead

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