Sprinklers prevent major damage in townhouse fire

The blaze started after a pot used to sterilize rubber nipples for baby bottles was accidentally left on the stove when the family went out.

A fire that started on the stove of a Willoughby townhouse on Thursday, Dec. 11  could have done far more damage than it did, if not for the presence of a working sprinkler system.

Pat Walker, assistant fire chief with the Township fire department, said the blaze started after a pot used to sterilize rubber nipples for baby bottles was accidentally left heating on the stove when the family went out.

“They left the house and thought they had turned it off, but it boiled dry,” said Walker. Eventually the nipples caught fire and ignited plastic components inside the stove’s hood.

The flames had also melted a cabinet door and a plastic kettle on the counter before being doused.

“It would have been a totally different scenario without the sprinkler,” said Walker.

Firefighters from halls 4, 6, and 8 responded to the blaze at the townhouse in the 8000 block of 209 Street just before 6:30 p.m. Finding no one home, crews broke a window to get inside, where they encountered heavy smoke.

“It smouldered for a long time,” said Walker.

Although it is a tough time of year to be out of their home, Walker said the family will likely be able to return in a couple of weeks, once restoration work has been completed.

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