Child’s mattress erupts in fire from overloaded power strip

We can be sure one local family is counting their blessings that they weren’t home this past Sunday, July 21 when a fire broke out in child’s bedroom. It happened around 4:30 in the afternoon on Geneva Street in Castroville.
“Thankfully the family was not home when it happened,” said Chief Rick Lair. “A power strip that was located between the mattress and the wall was overloaded, and caught the mattress on fire. A mattress fire puts out copious amounts of smoke, so thankfully the neighbors saw the fire. They busted in the window and were able to extinguish the mattress fire using a water hose I believe.”
The story gets even more interesting, as Chief notes no other fires were visible, and might have gone undetected had they not had a TIC (Thermal Imaging Camera).
“When we arrived, we used our Thermal Imaging Camera and located a short in the wall. There was a fire still burning inside the wall. The whole room was still hot from the mattress fire, and we would have never seen that fire inside the wall of that child’s bedroom without that piece of equipment. These tools (like the TIC and wireless extrication tools) are invaluable to us and to the community.”
“Remember, just because a power strip has six outlets in it, doesn’t mean you can safely use all of them. It still plugs into one socket, and 15 amps is all a wall socket can safely carry. That’s not that much. We have seen a lot of people plugging in a microwave and a toaster oven together, and a microwave pulls about 12 amps by itself.”
According to FEMA, there were 1,319,500 fires in 2017. There were 3,400 deaths from fires that year, and 14,670 injuries. Those fires also accounted for $23 Billion in losses.
Electrical malfunction is the cause of over 6.5% of those fires, while cooking remains the most common cause of fires at 51.6%, followed by Heating at 9.1%. provides a few interesting facts about fires:
-Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level.
-Fire starts bright, but inside a home, it quickly produces black smoke and becomes complete darkness.
-In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames.