Bed-bug treatment sets house on fire
Monday, May 16, 2011
CARTHAGE - Exterminator Richard Tyree was six hours into a
heat treatment meant to kill bed bugs in a two-family home Sunday
afternoon when a neighbor spotted black smoke pouring from the
Tyree called for help - but the ensuing fire destroyed the home
in the 300 block of West Seymour Avenue.
The treatment had just 30 minutes left.
"As far as I know, we had an equipment malfunction," Tyree said.
"It can happen. It's very unfortunate, (but) we're not a company
that runs from a problem."
Tyree said that until Sunday, his company, Carthage-based R.S.
Tyree Pest Control & Bed Bug Be Gone, never had an issue with
the treatment, which he finds more effective than chemical methods.
To kill the bed bugs, he uses propane convection heaters to raise a
home's temperature to 135 degrees. He requires residents to leave
during the 6½-hour treatment and removes any flammable items from
"We do up to 20, 25 apartments at the same time," Tyree said.
"We've never had a problem."
Cincinnati Fire District Chief Glenn Coleman said one of the six
heaters Tyree was using ignited carpet in a living room, a fire
that went unnoticed in the empty home until flames could be seen
through the windows. Coleman estimated the damage to the house at
$90,000, a total loss.
A firefighter suffered a minor arm injury and was treated at
University Hospital and released, Coleman said.
No residents were injured in the blaze, but Deborah Owens of
Clermont County said the loss is a big one for her family. Owens
and her husband own the house, and Owens' sister lives on one side
of the duplex with her boyfriend. Two other tenants, who are
friends of the sister, reside on the other side, Owens said.
"We lost basically a family home," she said. "Most of our family
has lived there and the woman we bought it from, all of her family
lived there for years."
The fire was reported at 2:07 p.m. Tenants had been told to be out
of house from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A house next door sustained about $1,000 in damage.
Tyree said his small company has insurance.
"I would do anything I could to fix it," he said.