Westford Fire Lt. casually walks past a burning restaurant igloo and extinguishes the flame

At 11:19 a.m. Friday, Westford Fire Lt. Donald R. Parsons was walking past the Fuse restaurant when he saw one of its plastic igloos on fire. Parsons immediately sprang into action and used a fire extinguisher to put out the flame.

Due to the small fire at the Westford restaurant, firefighters have issued a warning for the public specifically when using extension cords.

Parsons determined it started with Christmas lights that had been plugged into a series of two extension cords, one with exposed wires that had been wrapped in tape. An extension cord passed under a restaurant door, where it was subject to friction when opening and closing the door.

“Extension cords can be handy, but they should always be used safely,” Westford Fire Chief Joseph Targ said. “Check your extension cord before use and throw it away if the insulation is cracked, worn or damaged. Replacing the cord is much cheaper than replacing all the parts that can burn out in a fire.”

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey added that plugging one extension cord into another can overload and overheat it, creating a fire hazard.

“If you’re using an extension cord outdoors, make sure it’s listed by a qualified testing agency like UL and marked for outdoor use. And be sure to use a cord that’s rated for the wattage of any what you’re powering in. Appliances like space heaters should be plugged directly into a wall outlet that can handle current, not an extension cord,” Ostroskey said.

An electrical fire, or any type of fire, in or near a Christmas tree can grow and engulf a room in seconds, firefighters said. Be careful with lights, cords and heaters, and make sure there are working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on all levels of the residence. Water your tree regularly to further reduce the danger.

The US Department of Commerce released a public service announcement over a decade ago along with a video showing the incredible speed of a live Christmas tree fire.

In the video, the fire spreads through the tree and shoots from the ceiling, setting the rest of the room on fire. Smoke invades the frame from top to bottom until everything is black.

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