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Pests as Fire Hazards

By Chris Williams on October 21, 2011.

When mice, rats, birds, and other animals nest in buildings, there are potential health hazards to people from diseases and parasites. But there is another hazard that can be much more serious…fire!

Rodents and birds both like to make nests in and on buildings. They seek out small voids, chimneys, vents, and other cozy nooks. They may also seek out flammable materials like lint, string, bits of fabric, dead grass, dried leaves, paper, and feathers with which to make their nests. When their nests are blocking a vent or are near anything that could create a spark or become hot, a fire could result.

ratIn one case, a sparrow destroyed most of a house while smoking in bed! Fire investigators found a sparrow’s nest in the attic that contained seven cigarette butts. The birds collect the soft material inside cigarette filters as nest material. The investigators concluded that the sparrow brought back one last cigarette—that happened to be still smoldering—and added it to its nest. Other fires occur when birds build nests on top of outside building floodlights. The hot lights ignite the nest which in turn ignites the eaves and roof.

Mice, especially, like to nest in vehicles, under the hood and in other protected areas. In one case, a car caught fire after the heater ignited mouse nests under the dashboard. Flaming nests are not the only fire hazard associated with rodents. Rodents also like to gnaw on things, including electrical wires and cables. The gnawing can cause a short circuit and sparking that can start a fire.

These are steps you can take to help prevent nest-related fires:

·        Install a screen cap on top of your chimney if you don’t already have one.

·        Make sure all outside vents are screened or fitted with exterior flapper valve covers to keep birds out. Dryer vents, however, should not be screened because lint will be trapped in the vent, creating a fire hazard of its own.

·        Screen or block any bird nesting sites on your home during the winter months so that birds cannot nest there in the spring.

·        When you find vacant nests of pest birds and rodents, remove, bag, and discard the nests. The nest remains a fire hazard long after the occupants are gone. Wear gloves to protect yourself from any parasites remaining in the nest.

·        If you have a bird or other animal nesting in or on your house, give Colonial a call! We are experts in nuisance wildlife removal. Our trained technicians will humanely remove the animal, permanently block its access to your home, and clean up the nest site.

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