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Pacific edition, Friday, August 31, 2007

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Base officials are reminding residents about fire safety following two minor blazes earlier this week.

No one was hurt, and damage was minimal in the incidents, which occurred Monday. Both occupants managed to extinguish the fires before the fire department arrived.

Master Sgt. Dean Riewald, Yokota’s acting fire chief, said an airman living in a dorm was polishing boots in his room about 12:15 a.m. when some liquid spilled on the floor and a lighter ignited it, singeing a small patch of carpet. It caused less than $100 worth of damage.

“It was literally the size of a boot, very small,” Riewald said. “He stomped it out before we got there.”

Unattended cooking was to blame for a kitchen fire that broke out in a base tower apartment just before 9 a.m. Monday, he said.

According to Reward, a woman put something on the stove top and went to get her children ready for the first day of school, forgetting about the boiling pot as she left the apartment.

When she returned, a fire was burning in the kitchen, he said. She used a fire extinguisher to put it out.

“It could’ve been a lot worse than it was,” Riewald said.

Officials are still determining the cost of damages in the tower apartment incident, he said. It was essentially limited to the stove’s hood portion, but the fire also caused some scarring to shelves above that area.

According to Riewald, unattended cooking fires in military family housing remain a significant problem. From fiscal year 2004 until now, that has been the cause of half the documented fires on Yokota, he said.

He called Monday’s dorm incident “a freak thing.”

“Our dorm residents are model citizens and do a really good job of following the rules as far as fire prevention goes,” he said.

Construction features within dorms and family housing units make all base residences “inherently safe,” Riewald said.

“These are concrete, steel-reinforced facilities,” he said. “Fires are generally limited to the single room of origin because of the construction design.”

As a precaution, Riewald strongly recommends renter’s insurance to all base residents.

For more information about cooking risks and fire-related tips for dorm residents, visit the National Fire Protection Association’s Web site at


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