Fire burns house on Julie Avenue |

Fire burns house on Julie Avenue

A fire early Thursday morning destroyed most of a home at 1211 Julie Ave.

A woman in the house was awakened by the smell of smoke just before 4 a.m. She discovered the flames, which were started by a short circuit in an extension cord, firefighters said.

The woman, her husband and their two children all escaped unharmed.

The fire began in a workroom at the front of the house that is being remodeled.

Short circuits often occur when electrical cords have been damaged, according to Brad Piazzo of the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department.

“Shorts generate a lot of heat, and that can start a fire once it escapes the cord’s insulation,” Piazzo explained.

Initially the woman thought a wood stove was the source of the smoke. Smoke from the stove had previously set off the home’s smoke detectors, which the family then disabled.

“(The fire alarms) were a nuisance or something,” Piazzo said. “They are really fortunate that the wife smelled smoke and woke up, because it could have been ugly.”

Heavy flames were venting from the roof when firefighters arrived, and smoke obscured most of the house.

A plastic skylight in the room where the fire started burst, allowing fire to shoot as high as 10 feet into the sky. Piazzo said that helped restrict the fire to one area of the house.

Firefighters estimated damage at $145,000.

“Up to half of the structure was damaged by fire, and the heat … damaged the rest of it,” Piazzo said. “That’s what we had throughout the house.”

The only undamaged areas of the house were the family’s bedrooms at the rear of the house.

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