The Oregon State Fire Marshal said an extension cord under a rug has been identified as the cause of a fatal fire in Polk County this past December. The marshal hopes the death serves as grim reminder of the danger of placing electrical cords under or near any combustible material.

"In addition to being placed under a rug, the cord was damaged by a chair placed on top of the rug," states investigating Deputy State Fire Marshal Dan Jones. "This tragedy is compounded because there were no smoke alarms in the home."

Pendleton Fire Marshal Tyler Nokes said problems from extension cords arise when people use them permanently.

"Extension cords are for temporary use," Nokes said.

Too often, he said, people run extension cords between rooms, under carpets and doorways, where they may be damaged by foot traffic, furniture, pets or in other ways. And a crimp in the wire can lead to a hot spot in that cord. And that can lead to a fire. Nokes recalled an instance where an extension cord acted like a fuse and burned through carpet.

He said common sense can help alleviate dangers with extension cords. Use an extension cord that's the right size for the appliance. For example, small "zip cords" that commonly have a 2-prong plug on one end and a 3-way adapter on the other, shouldn't be used for much more than a house lamp. Also, Nokes said extension cords shouldn't be left outside with one end plugged into an outlet.

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