Fumes from paint thinner set stage for explosion
By Kathy Chaffin
CLEVELAND ó A man escaped injury here Monday afternoon when fumes from the paint thinner he was using caused an explosion in a North Depot Street house.
Chief Kenny Payne of the Cleveland Fire Department said either a radio the man had in the room or a wall socket set off the explosion.
The man, who was painting the vacant house getting it ready to rent, called 911 on his cell phone at 1:42 p.m.
“He went out the back door and was able to escape the flames,” Payne said. “He was lucky because it was burning pretty good when we got there.”
The department’s part-time employees were the first to arrive on the scene, he said, and had the fire knocked down in about five minutes.
“If it hadn’t been for them, the house would have been gone,” the chief said.
Payne said the fire was under control within 10 minutes.
About 40 firefighters from the Cleveland, West Rowan, Rowan-Iredell, Woodleaf and Locke fire departments responded to the scene.
The interior of the wood frame house was heavily damaged by fire, heat and smoke, he said.
The house was the home of the late Brady Seamon, who died in 2004.
Payne said Seamon was well known for repairing clocks and TVs. “He could fix anything,” he said.
Investigators with the Rowan County Fire Marshal’s Office confirmed the fire was accidental, Payne said.
People painting houses need to make sure they are well ventilated, he said. “That would be a lesson learned, I guess.”