Air-conditioning unit sparks fire in Plantation home

Homeowner says fire started after he turned on heater for first time in 10 years

By Alexandra Fruin - Producer, Erica Rakow - Reporter, Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

PLANTATION, Fla. - A family was displaced early Monday morning when flames broke out in an air-conditioning unit at a Plantation home. 

According to a Plantation Fire Department representative, the owner of the home in the 900 block of Northwest Seventh Street was in the house when the flames started in the attic.

When firefighters arrived, the flames were already through the roof. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Rob Ramirez told Local 10 News reporter Erica Rakow that it happened after he turned on his heater for the first time in 10 years.

He said he turned on the heater about 4 a.m. to warm up the house and said that he noticed an usual smell.

Ramirez said he didn't think much about it at first since he hadn't used his heater in so long, but soon he smelled smoke. He said the smoke became very thick, so he grabbed his son, his son's friend, their dog and his laptop and went outside.

Minutes later, flames were shooting through the roof.

"I was trying to figure out where the smoke was coming from and thought I'd go and grab the hose, but that (didn't) work out too well," Ramirez said. 

Plantation Fire Battalion Chief Joel Gordon said the damage is consistent with a fire started by a central A/C unit.

Gordon said over the past week firefighters have been called to several homes after people reported funny smells after they turned on their heaters. Gordon said dust often builds up on A/C units, and it's important to wipe down the coils before turning your heaters on.

"Turn it on. Watch it. Make sure it cleans off," Gordon said. "You probably are going to get that smell, but if you see smoke or anything coming out of the duct work, then you've got to call us right away."

The home has been deemed uninhabitable and most of the roof is gone.

The American Red Cross is assisting the family.

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