Five Albany fires caused by air conditioner overloads - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Five Albany fires caused by air conditioner overloads

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –The scorching heat wave continues.

The heat index topped 105-degrees throughout south Georgia today.

The heat is so intense, it has become a fire hazard.

Albany firefighters battled five fires over the weekend that started as people struggled to stay cool.

Another real scorcher of a day weather wise. And you know temperatures like this can be very dangerous.  So hot that over heated air conditioners and wiring over the weekend touched off fires.

Marcia Mathis' air conditioner on Nona Drive was working so long and so hard Saturday about 3 in the afternoon the wiring powering it burst into flames.

The rug below the wiring and the bed next to it were burned by the fire. Luckily neighbors were in the East Albany duplex spotted the flames and were able to extinguish them.

Fire Chief James Carswell said "If you have an extension cord that's only designed to cover so many amps, but you have a 20 amp breaker, the cord is going to short out before the breaker trips. So any time you use extension cords, it's really dangerous, especially with air conditioner units."

Four other fires were started in Albany about the same way this weekend. Saturday morning about 1:15 the air conditioner in a room at the Days Inn on West Oglethorpe overheated the electrical wiring, and started a fire. The blaze caused $6000 damage. Firefighters say even though it's hot, air conditioners, especially window units, have to cool down.

Car swell said "they need cut off the air conditioner occasionally and let it cool off. Need to set your thermostat higher, to make sure it does cycle on and off."

The heat of course is so severe it can be a real health hazard. These construction workers today were using towels to try to cover their head and neck from the sun. Health officials say you have to drink lots of water in this extreme heat, and watch for the warning signs of heat stress.

Southwest Georgia Public Health Deputy Health Director Brenda Greene said "extremely hot, the face is red. They are not sweating. Pounding headache, nausea, dizziness. Those are signs of extreme conditions that warrant calling 9-1-1 immediately."

With the heat index in the danger zone, it's important to have a cool down period, both for your own body and your air conditioning system.

Health officials say you should check on your elderly relatives and neighbors. Some medicines that they take can actually prevent sweating, the body's natural way to cool down. So people taking those medicines have to be especially cautious during these extreme temperatures.   Health officials also remind you to never leave a pet or child in your car, even for a few seconds.

When the heat index gets over 105 degrees, the Albany Parks and Recreation Department opens all its gym and centers to anyone who needs a place to cool down.

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