Family of 6 displaced after bedbug killing chemicals and smoking start fire

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - Four children and two adults are without a home because someone was smoking in a room where they had just sprayed isopropyl alcohol, trying to kill bedbugs.

Colerain Firefighters responded to the fire in a second floor apartment in the 3500 block of West Galbraith Road around 9:30 Saturday night.

Isopropyl Alcohol can be an effective home-remedy to kill bedbugs, but due to its volatile nature is extremely flammable, and even more flammable when using a spray bottle.  Smoking in the area is extremely hazardous in this situation.

"It can be an effective treatment but you have to read the labels and make sure it's a well ventilated area that you're not providing any kind of an ignition source – furnace, water heater kicking on - any other kind of heat sources, candles, obviously smoking or even just turning on a light switch can cause a spark and if the air mixture is just correct it can actually cause a fire from that," said Steve Conn, Colerain Township fire captain.

No firefighters or residents were injured during the fire.  It did $30,000 worth of damage.  The family is receiving assistance from the Red Cross.

Professional exterminator Miguel Sanchez, owner of Sky High Termite & Pest Control in Cincinnati, says homeowners should weigh their options carefully when it comes to home treatments.  He does not recommend using alcohol as a treatment.  He prefers certain chemicals and also steam treatments.  Other professionals use large heaters to raise a home's temperature above the level where bedbugs can survive, although that treatment can be costly.

Sanchez says if a homeowner chooses to apply chemicals themselves, they should know that a professional may not be able to come in later and apply more.

For information from the Environmental Protection Agency, click here.

For information from the City of Cincinnati, click here.

For the Better Business Bureau, to search for professional exterminators, click here.

To report bed bugs in Hamilton County, click here.

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