Fire dept. shares caution after lawn mower burns down garage

Published: May. 22, 2019 at 3:51 PM CDT
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Last Thursday a North Platte family lost their garage, along with thousands of dollars worth of stuff in it, to a fire.

The suspected culprit was something a lot of people use every summer. A lawn mower is what caused all units with the North Platte Fire Department to respond to the 300 block of Mills Avenue Thursday.

Neighbors came knocking to let the residents know their garage was fully engulfed in flames.

North Platte City Fire Marshall, George Lewis, said to let your mower cool off after using it. "When you use lawnmowers you want to make sure that you when you're done mowing you want the lawn more to cool off and that's a good idea to clean off the mower because grass clippings and stuff like that build up on it and if the exhaust is still hot it can catch that on fire and also if you put it inside and it's near combustibles it can cause fires that way."

Lewis said the mower parts can get over 200 degrees. "The cylinder heads get to about 250, the spark plug is 230 and the exhaust is around 380, so it does get hot enough to ignite combustibles if it's up against like a cardboard box, paper or what have you."

That's what Lewis said happened to the garage that was a total loss on Mills Avenue. He said the mower was stored, still hot, next to combustibles. "Ordinary combustibles would be things like paper, cloth, wood, rubber, flammable liquids and things like that," said Lewis.

Lewis suggests taking the machinery out of the shed or garage before starting it, and letting it cool down for at least 15 minutes before storage.

"Just make sure you take it outside to start it up so you got plenty of airflow around it," said Lewis, "and then once you're done mowing, let it cool down, maybe rinse it off with a garden hose, make sure it's clean and no grass clippings are up against the muffler or the engine block itself."

The fire departments wanted everyone to know the dangers of these tools, if not used properly. "Just be awful careful especially like with the gardening tools, the lawn mowers, weed eaters and stuff like that," said Lewis, "Make sure they're cooled down before you set them down on anything or next to anything combustible and then make sure that when you're fueling the lawnmower, that it's cool before you refill it and make sure you're using the right fuel and then make sure everything is in working order."

The garage that burned down due to a lawn mower was a total loss. Lewis estimates the damages at $15,000 to $20,000. No one was in the garage at the time of the fire.