Electrical outlet blamed for fire that destroyed 18 homes

Fire fighters seek out hot spots while residents of destroyed homes seek out personal possessions that might have avoided destruction. Cuerpo de Bomberos photo

Fire, believed caused by an electrical malfunction, tore through 18 low-income homes in Purral, Guadalupe, Thursday afternoon.

Fire fighters said that the blaze appeared to have originated in the kitchen of one home, and they suspect a faulty electrical outlet was the cause. The massive fire took place just a day after the Cuerpo de Bomberos issued a warning about holiday fire dangers.

The homes were leveled. Many had been constructed of steel
sheeting that tends to direct the heat and flames inward.

Firemen said they managed to save many more homes. The alarm came in about 12:25 p.m. Firemen said the blaze was controlled about 40 minutes later. By this time most of the homes were nothing more than twisted steel.

The location is in Goicoechea north of San José.

A fire department spokesperson said that electrical system problems have accounted for about 23 percent of the 941 blazes this year. About 13 percent have been traced to problems within an electrical device, the spokesperson said.

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