Damage minimal in near-fire event at new house

A smoldering, hot smell at a new home construction site in Hillsboro was reported to firefighters late Wednesday afternoon, but within minutes the cause was detected and damage to the structure was minimal.

Hillsboro Fire Chief Ben Steketee said construction workers at 302 Prairie Pointe directed firefighters to the garage and into the attic above a bathroom.

?Workers told firefighters they smelled something hot (off and on during the day), but it was hard to lock down,? Steketee said.

The cause, he said, was from a light-bulb fixture being pressed up into cellulose insulation, which then transferred enough heat to melt plastic and wiring, creating combustion and the minor fire.

The fixture was probably moved out of the way while the cellulose insulation was being blown into the attic area.

Steketee said firefighters were able to scoop a lot of the insulation into a bucket, avoiding further water damage from using fire hoses.

?We were very pleased with the outcome,? he said. ?I estimate the damage was about $1,500.?

Had crews already installed Sheetrock walls, he said, it could have caused the house to go up like a ?tinderbox.?

Only two months into 2010, Steketee said, ?it?s been a high-volume year (for fires).?

In the past five years, he said, the fire department has averaged about two structural fires a year.

During the last three months (to include December), Steketee said, the department has responded to four ?working fires,? requiring the use of hoses and water supply (hydrant).

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