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Candles ignite house fire in Brook Forest

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By Vicky Gits

Firefighters extinguished flames Sunday night after three candles, called tealights, threatened to burn down a house at 6863 Snowshoe Trail in Brook Forest about 9:50 p.m.

The fire, on the upper story of a multilevel house, spread quickly through a room where candles were left burning unattended on a wooden desk.

The resident of the home, a dog and two cats all escaped without injury. The damage was limited to the room and contents.

The first firefighter on the scene was next-door neighbor Lt. Kevin Evens of Evergreen Fire/Rescue, who got the alert on his pager. He found flames coming out the patio door and rolling into the eaves, said Einar Jensen, spokesman with Evergreen Fire/Rescue.

Evens sprayed the flames with a pair of 5-pound extinguishers as something in the fire exploded and peppered his face with burning debris. Luckily, the injuries were minor and did not prevent Evens from serving as incident commander. Firefighters are required to keep a fire extinguisher in their personal vehicles.

Supported by Engine 8 from the new station in Brook Forest, firefighters pulled an attack line through the front door and went upstairs, where they extinguished the fire with tank water. Before the Brook Forest station was built, the closest facility was Station 1, another 10 minutes away. “It did make a difference. It’s critical to get engine aid and an attack line in because fire grows exponentially,” Jensen said.

Candles account for about 4 percent of all house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Candles were responsible for 15,600 fires in 2005.

This incident should serve as a warning that December is a peak time for candle fires. “Keep candles away from flammable materials, use nonflammable holders and blow them out before leaving the room,” Jensen said.