Cause of Cornwall house fire revealed

Ryan Ross
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Elmer Power, who died in a house fire Tuesday, is seen here playing the organ at St. Dunstan's Basilica.

A Cornwall man died of smoke inhalation after loose combustible material behind his fridge caught fire Tuesday.

Firefighters found Elmer Power, 82, in a hallway near his kitchen and an autopsy determined he died of smoke inhalation.

P.E.I. fire marshal Dave Blacquiere said material like loose papers, lint and dog hair collected around the fridge compressor and caught fire from the heat.

“The level of loose material in this case was more than in most homes.”

The heat from a fridge attracts loose material like lint and it can build up over time if not cleaned up, Blacquiere said, although he couldn’t say how long the material had built up at Power’s home.

“You should treat your fridge no different that your clothes dryer.” P.E.I. fire marshal Dave Blacquiere

“It could be years for all I know.”

Blacquiere said there was also material near the fridge that made it easier for the fire to spread once it started.

“Once that caught on fire back there it had an easy fuel source next to it.”

People should make sure they clean out around their fridge on a regular basis to avoid incidents like the one in Cornwall, he said.

“You should treat your fridge no different that your clothes dryer.”

Power was home alone with his dog when the fire started, but the dog survived and is in the care of the P.E.I. Humane Society.

Organizations: Cornwall house, P.E.I. Humane Society

Geographic location: Cornwall

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