The Oak Ridge Fire Department called it a “near miss.”
Firefighters responded at about 6:40 a.m. Thursday to a report of smoke at the Oak Ridge Utility District office building on South Jefferson Circle. The source of the smoke was initially believed to be a motor on a heat and air unit that had failed, but fire crews using a thermal imaging camera located a hot ceiling tile in an office, an ORFD press release said.
“It appears that a light ballast had failed, causing the fixture to overheat, which ignited the paper backing on the insulation lying directly on top of the recessed light,” the release said. “The paper burned along the insulation for approximately five feet until the insulation came into contact with a sprinkler pipe, where it self-extinguished. There was no damage, smoke or water, to the building, and the burned insulation was removed by the firefighters.”
The release said ORUD will have a maintenance contractor replace the light fixture and check the rest of the building and see if there is any more insulation in contact with light fixtures.
“Whether in the home or business, insulation should be kept three to five inches from all recessed lighting, bathroom ventilation fans, or any electrical equipment, which can generate heat, especially during a device failure such as the light ballast, or a fan motor,” the release said. “Recessed lighting (can lights) installed in the home should also be checked to ensure blown-in insulation is not in contact with the fixture to allow the fixture to remain cool.”
For additional information about fire safety in a home or business, contact Fire Prevention Chief Josh Waldo at the Oak Ridge Fire Department at (865) 425-3520.