Woodbury home catches fire during bed bug battle

June 12, 2013 2:14:51 PM PDT
A home in Woodbury, New Jersey was heavily damaged by fire, investigators say, sparked by the homeowner's battle with bed bugs.

The fire happened at a home on Penn Street.

Investigators and neighbors say the homeowner used a space heater, a hair dryer and a heat gun to handle a bed-bug problem on the second floor.

"He went online, got some instructions on how to do so. The fire started and he was out here trying to put it out with a garden hose. He suffered smoke inhalation and had to go to the hospital," said neighbor Tom Lanigan.

The initial fire was quickly doused, but a second flare-up nearly gutted the home by the time the situation was brought under control.

"Somebody could have been more seriously hurt, luckily that wasn't the case. But when you're dealing with the temperatures like we are now, it makes that hazard more dangerous," said Chief Randall Gartner of the Woodbury Fire Department.

It turns out that using excessive heat to get rid of bed bugs is considered by some to be a legitimate, non-toxic alternative to pesticides.

However, fire officials strongly recommend using a professional exterminator who offers that technique as an option.

Fire officials in Woodbury say this story should serve as a cautionary tale.

"My advice to everybody is call the professionals, stay off the internet with these quick remedies because it's just a catastrophe in the making," said Woodbury Fire Marshal Joseph Buono.

No serious injuries were reported, but some firefighters also suffered smoke inhalation.


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