by nathan oster
While cautioning that it’s still under investigation, a state fire marshal said Tuesday that there is a high probability that a dried-out, plug-in air freshener caused the house fire Friday afternoon at 516 11th Ave. N. in Greybull.
“I’m pretty sure of it,” said Richard Embrey, who investigated the fire. “Historically there have been cases throughout the country where fires have started because of the Glade plug-in malfunction … if you will.
“When those go dry, they have a tendency to get hot because the electricity is still going through them, heating up the element. They’ve been known to cause fires elsewhere and I think that’s what happened in this case.”
No one was home at the time of the fire, which was reported to authorities shortly after 4 p.m. In fact, the owner of the home, Matt Good, was out of the state on Friday, visiting his father in Minnesota.
Embrey concluded that the fire started in the living room and credited Greybull firefighters for their work saving the structure. “The structure itself is still solid,” Embrey concluded. “It’s not a total loss; I think it could be fixed up and lived in again.”
At the present time, however, the home is uninhabitable. Good has temporarily moved into a trailer house that once belonged to his great grandmother, Ina Harvey, and is still owned by his family.
Embrey encourages anyone who purchases the Glade plug-ins to check them regularly.
“A few years ago, they came out with a public service announcement warning people that once those plug ins went dry, they should change them immediately or take them completely out of the wall,” said Embrey, citing a study done by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
As for the fire itself, Paul Murdoch, the Greybull fire chief, was on the road and unable to respond. But he offered kudos nonetheless to the members of his department who responded to the fire call.
“Our guys did a good job on it,” he said. “It was fully engulfed when they got there. Flames were coming out of the windows. They saved the house pretty well. Structurally it’s still in good shape. The fire didn’t burn anything up other than furniture,” although considerable smoke and water damage was reported.
Assisting the GFD at the scene were members of South Big Horn County Search and Rescue, the Greybull Police Department and the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office.