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Be aware of electrical fires as we get closer to brutal desert heat in Las Vegas

Posted at 2:54 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 02:32:35-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Electrical fires are the second leading cause of fires in Las Vegas. The head culprit this month: air conditioning units.

RELATED: Electrical fire reported at Golden Nugget hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas

As we head into the summer months, we have to check our air conditioner (AC) units. We’ve already had daytime highs that were close to 100 degrees this month and Las Vegas Fire & Rescue says they have responded to quite a few calls.

LVFR public information officer (PIO) Tim Szymanski told us, "This is one of the harshest places in the country when it comes to heat. Those ac units take a pretty bad beating. We recommend that once every two years a qualified technician go through your ac unit and make sure it’s up to safety standards."

The telling signs of an AC unit fire

"Generally what it does is put out light smoke through the vents. If it’s coming through the vents and it’s a light haze, that’s probably going to be an air conditioner fire," said Szymanski

There are many other electrical fire hazards that Las Vegas fire and rescue is urging people to fix or check to avoid a potential disaster.

One big thing: don’t plug a power strip into another power strip

"We call that piggybacking. You really shouldn’t do that. They can only carry so much electricity through those wires. When you overload a circuit, what it does is generates heat and that’s what starts the fire," said Szymanski

Around 3,300 electrical fires per year start with extension cords. Extension cords can overheat with improper use, so it’s important not to overload them. They are estimated to kill around 50 people and injure 270 a year.

Electrical fires are very tricky because they are inside the walls and you can’t see them.

"A lot of the times, people don’t know they have a fire until it gets up in the attic. It’s usually your neighbor that runs over and bangs on your door saying the roof of your house is on fire. We had one in the northwest that cost 13 million dollars in damage to one house," warned Szymanski.

One issue the fire department encounters frequently is charging cords.

"When the insulation wears away and your phone isn’t charging, that’s an indication that if you leave it alone, and you may not be home because most people don’t unplug their phone chargers from the wall. That wire could short out and catch fire when you’re not home," said Szymanski

As we get hotter and hotter, those calls to the fire department will get more intense.

RELATED: Clark County adds new fire station in east Las Vegas

More on this story later.