PVFD trace minor structure fire to in floor heating


January 14, 2021

The Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department responded to a structure fire in the 600 block of N. Nordic Dr. Tuesday morning at about 7 A.M., according to PVFD Assistant Fire Chief Dave Berg.

Fifteen volunteers responded to an OBI Seafoods bunkhouse on PFI Hill that was filled with heavy smoke. The source of the smoke was coming from under a couch in the center of the room, said Berg. Volunteers flipped the couch over expecting to find a burning cigarette or another source of the smoke, instead they found an approximately 15 to 18 inch hole burned straight through the floorboards, said Berg.

The crew took a fire hose down into the basement and, using a thermal imager, found a section of the insulation beneath the flooring of the first story of the building that was radiating heat, said Berg. The insulation was removed and volunteers located a radiant floor heating line that had shorted, which likely caused the fire, said Berg.

"That is being investigated now, but it appears that it was a short in the radiant heat flooring," said Berg.

The volunteers sprayed water on the burning floorboards and in between the two layers of flooring in case the fire had spread further into the flooring, said Berg.

Only one person was in the building when smoke began flowing out from under the couch and they immediately called the Petersburg Police Department. Berg said the individual wasn't injured, but he was treated for minor smoke inhalation.

"If [the building] hadn't been attended, the house very well could have been a total loss," said Berg. "It depends on how fast something like that gets reported. Especially with that couch sitting over it. It wouldn't have been long before the couch would have been a major cause of a fire at that point."


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