WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 30, 2013, 08:57 PM

Many fires are caused by electrical issues

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV)-- This year 3 fires have been caused by electrical issues in Moorhead, and 9 in Fargo.

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV)-- This year 3 fires have been caused by electrical issues in Moorhead, and 9 in Fargo.

Just this week, a fire caused by an improperly installed electrical outlet claimed the life of 15 year old Rylie Efterfield in Hawley.

For 20 years, Terry Mcgarry with Rick Electric has been installing and repairing electrical work in homes.

He says the thing most people try to do on their own is electrical outlets. With all of the updates and different codes, it can be dangerous.

Terry Mcgarry- Rick Electric: "You start reversing polarities and different things, and it can cause appliances to short out and you wont have the protection."

Terry says most electrical fires are caused by overheating.

Mcgarry: "A loose connection creates heat, which brings your amperage up and then it creates a lot of heat and that will eventually start to break down the wires and your outlet and cause a fire."

Older homes typically have the more electrical issues. Since the wiring is usually more than 30 years old it cant keep up with modern day appliances.

Mcgarry: "Toasters, microwaves and all of that kind of stuff."

As an electrician, Mcgarry also installs the wiring for smoke detectors. He says detectors need to be replaced every ten years, but should be checked once a month.

Mcgarry: "All of the smoke detectors in your home are usually interconnected so if one goes off in one room the whole home will go off."

Some things you can do to protect yourself are checking outlets regularly, making sure they aren't loose, touch to see if they are warm, and don't plug too many things in at one location, and always hire a professional.

Mcgarry: "You want to protect your family and everything else, well that's a big part of it is hiring a professional to do it so you know it's done right."

All electrical work in Minnesota must be done by a licensed professional, and checked by an inspector.

Homeowners who own and occupy their home can do electrical work, but are still required to get an inspection.