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Woman ‘grateful’ after house fire
A modern cautionary tale: Hot laptop started smoky, destructive Golden Valley blaze

Samuel Gonzalez, and Adam Thomas clean up after a laptop exploded and caused a fire in a Golden valey home Nov. 5.
Photo by Bob Leal.

Samuel Gonzalez, and Adam Thomas clean up after a laptop exploded and caused a fire in a Golden valey home Nov. 5.

GOLDEN VALLEY – Despite Dorothy Buckelew’s house being a complete mess, she is “feeling very blessed and grateful.”

That’s because the owner of Bucky’s Swap Meet almost lost her home Nov. 5 after her business partner’s laptop computer exploded and caused a fire, spewing black smoke throughout.

Buckelew said she was ready to leave when she heard two explosions and then heard smoke detectors going off. Then she saw smoke coming from the bedroom.

“I ran to the sink and I took my soapy dishwater (that was in a portable wash basin), and I ran and threw it on the flames. They were hitting the ceiling,” said the retired educator.

She repeated the emergency undertaking two more times to successfully extinguish the blaze. “I had a black face and my hair was black,” recalls Buckelew. “I broke some dishes while I was like Superwoman for a while.”

“I’m thinking, if I wouldn’t have been here I would have lost my house,” Buckelew said. “I am totally blessed. I was almost out the door.”

The Golden Valley Fire Department was called and Buckelew was “coughing terribly.” She was checked out for smoke inhalation and was deemed OK. She called the fire personnel who responded “wonderful.”

She was told not to use the air conditioner, since smoke had invaded the ductwork.

On Wednesday, a crew of six from the restoration company ATI of Henderson, Nev., were diligently going through the entire house wiping walls and furniture, cutting out part of the ceiling, cleaning up insulation that fell from the attic and getting ready to rip up the carpet. Her garage was piled with boxes of items that had to be taken out of the house.

Walls and ceilings have to be wiped, then treated with a chemical before any paint can be applied, said Manny Gonzalez-Luque, who was managing the restoration effort.

The misfortune occurred, said Buckelew, after her business partner purchased a fluffy comforter for his bed. He placed the plugged-in laptop on the comforter, and according to Buckelew’s theory, the laptop was smothered and unable to “breathe,” which made it overheat. That led to the batteries overheating and blowing up, she said.

Buckelew figures the restoration will take around three weeks. And she has a warning for those who have laptops in their homes. She doesn’t want what happened to her happen to anyone else.

“People need to be aware laptops need circulation. Don’t leave them on bedding. They have to be able to breathe. (The laptop) got smothered and it’s very, very dangerous,” said Buckelew.


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