State authorities have traced California’s largest wildfire so far this year, the Rocky fire, back to a faulty water heater. While officials don’t yet know exactly how the water heater failed, water heater fires are not uncommon, although they typically don’t cause such massive damage. One woman interviewed in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat claimed experience with a water heater catching fire in her home when she attempted to repair it.
In 2011, the last year listed in National Fire Protection Association statistics online, water heaters sparked some 5,900 home fires. Those water-heater triggered fires in 2011 resulted in 20 civilian deaths, 170 injuries and $139 million in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
We would like to extend our sympathies to all those affected by the Rocky fire, which blackened nearly 70,000 acres and destroyed 43 homes – and we would like to encourage everyone to be safe when dealing with water heaters, whether electric or gas. Aside from the potential for fire, you can easily be burned or electrocuted if something goes wrong. We strongly feel this is one instance where DIY is not the way to go. Repair, maintenance, or replacement of any type of water heater is best left to those who have been trained to safely and efficiently deal with the unique issues that come about when you combine water and gas or electricity.