LAFD: Video Reveals Curious Pup Caused Jan. 29 Home Fire

Reconstructed area of originFire damage inside a home which caught fire Wednesday, Jan. 29. Photo Courtesy LAFD


Nine-month old Kahuna, the culprit, who was safely evacuated from a fire Wednesday, Jan. 29. Photo Courtesy LAFD


Every 24 seconds a fire department in the United States responds to a fire, a fire occurs in a structure at a rate of one every 63 seconds, and a home fire occurs at a rate of one every 88 seconds.

On Jan. 29 the Los Alamos Fire Department (LAFD) responded to a structure fire where two pets had evacuated safely. Members of the Los Alamos fire investigation team consisting of Lead Investigator – Capt. Michael Lewis, Driver Engineer Van Leimer assisted by Sr. Fire & Life Safety Coordinator Stephen Rinaldi, began their work to identify the origin and cause of the fire. The team utilizes information of past and present fire causes to further reduce risk to the community through prevention programs.

While narrowing in on the origin, which centered on the floor grate for a radiant heat furnace; investigators questioned the homeowner about the furniture and contents in the area of the heater. He indicated that nothing was placed on the heater floor grate but there was an ironing board set up near the grate along with a clothes basket, ottoman and other items.  As investigators examined the heater more closely and began to reconstruct the placement of items, the homeowner was able to provide the team key interior evidence of the fire start in the form of a home video.

The videos show the accidental cause and identify the culprit, as one of the four-legged occupants at home during the fire. Nine-month-old “Kahuna” is shown rearranging the furniture by tipping the ironing board, a backpack and other nearby items onto the heater floor grate.  The furnace was operating and produced sufficient heat to melt some items, which flowed into the heater and served as the necessary fuel to initiate the fire down inside the furnace unit.

Video clips show the timeline of the ironing board being tipped over and the start of the fire approximately an hour later. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, and firefighters were able to quickly douse the fire and limit damage to the structure. Fire investigators were pleased to receive the video clips that aided the investigation by validating their hypothesis regarding the cause of the fire.

Los Alamos Fire Department recommends homeowners ensure that smoke alarms are located in and outside all bedrooms, on each level of a home, and interconnected so that if one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound. LAFD also recommends that combustible items not be placed on or within three feet of heating devices or heat producing appliances, especially when pets are left home alone and could knock items onto the heaters. Portable heaters should not be operated when unattended. Another important safety practice is to have an escape plan as demonstrated in the video perfectly by “Paige” the older canine. Kahuna, who declined to comment is expected to be enrolled in dog training or Youth Fire-Setting Prevention and Intervention classes soon!

Video shared at permission of the homeowner, and statistics from NFPA Please direct requests for information regarding this incident or fire prevention recommendations to LAFD Fire Marshal Wendy Servey at or (505) 662-8301.