POLITICS

Dogs caused house fire by chewing or playing with matches: Yukon fire marshal

12/10/2014 02:11 EST | Updated 02/09/2015 05:59 EST
WHITEHORSE - A couple of dogs likely started a house fire by chewing or playing with a box of matches, the Yukon's fire marshal says.

Dennis Berry is warning against leaving matches where pets can get hold of them.

The pooches used a doggy door to escape after the homeowner had already left for work, he said.

Berry said while there was minimal fire damage to the single-storey residence, the smoke damage was extensive.

An investigation determined the fire started in or beside the dogs’ bed, and the source of ignition was likely the “strike anywhere” matches, he said.

The homeowner returned from work at the end of the day on Nov. 25 and noticed billowing smoke as he opened the door, Berry said.

Fire chief Colin O’Neill of the Mount Lorne Volunteer Fire Department and five other volunteers were at the residence in 10 to 15 minutes.

“When they arrived on scene, there was heavy smoke and a few hot spots,” Berry said. “So there had been a fire but it had extinguished itself.”

He said an investigation determined the fire had started in the dogs' bed, crept to a nearby couch and then to a wicker chair before burning out.

A clock that was working stopped at 8:30 a.m., so firefighters believe the fire would have occurred sometime after 7:30, when the homeowner went to work.

Berry said there was nothing electrical near the bed or anything else that might have ignited the blaze, but firefighters found the burned remains of a box of matches.

“The most likely and the most probable conclusion is the dogs at some point took the match box and were chewing on it or playing with it and that caused the matches to ignite.”

Berry said he’s never heard of an animal causing a fire under similar circumstances, but his colleagues have heard of boxes of wooden matches igniting simply by being dropped.

He said mice have also been known to carry strike-anywhere matches to their holes. (Whitehorse Star)