New post-Sandy problem: electrical fires

    Late Friday morning, the Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company got the call: fire in a real estate office.

    At 6 a.m. the next morning, they got the same call but for a different building. It was their third fire that week for a town with a year-round population of 158 people.

    “Two fires in an 18 hour stretch is extremely unusual,” said Bruce Riordan, chief of volunteer fire department. “In fact, it never happens.” Fires broke out in Avalon and Cape May last weekend, too.

    The culprit? Sandy. Flooding left behind mold and other corrosive agents that can ruin electrical systems and appliance motors. 

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    “Even if if you didn’t have water in the house, quite a few homes had water underneath,” Riordan said. Garages with refrigerators are another possible hot spot.

    In a town-wide newsletter, officials are urging homeowners to call in three different experts, even if they didn’t experience significant Sandy-related damage: electrician for electrical system; plumber for gas connection to HVAC system, and appliance expert for refrigerator and dishwasher – any appliance with a motor. Also, homeowners should check batteries in smoke detectors. 


    Jen A. Miller writes the Down the Shore with Jen blog for Jen is author of The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May, which is now in its second edition.


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