Water heater ignites slow-burning fire that damaged home and killed pet dog
A smoldering fire that started near a basement water heater is blamed for up to $45,000 in damage to a house on Norris Street in Ypsilanti.
The fire started at about noon in the home at 626 Norris near West Forest and North River Streets in Ypsilanti, according to fire investigators.
But firefighters weren't called to the single-family home until about 5 p.m. - after heavy smoke finally started to seep through windows.
"It burned unnoticed in the basement," said Capt. Michelle Stanbury of the Ypsilanti Fire Department.
Clothing and paper stored near the water heater ignited, Stanbury said, and it crept through them and up to the copper water line that feeds into the tank.
The fire burned through the "sweat joints" of the piping, creating a sprinkler effect around the water heater and putting out the fire beneath it - and likely generating some smoke near the home's chimney that a neighbor had noticed at about 1 p.m.
But by then, the fire had also crept up to the floor above it and started to smolder in a first-floor closet that was filled with VHS tapes, DVDs and other media, Stanbury said.
"It smoldered for a long time before breaking into free-burning mode," Stanbury said.
Firefighters arrived to heavy smoke pouring from the home, which suffered mostly heat and smoke damage.
The resident wasn't home, but a pet dog in the home died during the incident, Stanbury added. The American Red Cross provided temporary shelter for the resident.
Firefighters from Ypsilanti Township, Pittsfield Township and Ann Arbor assisted Ypsilanti crews.