Original story By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

Posted April 01, 2016, at 2:20 p.m.

David Lord, owner of A & A Vacuum in Fairhope and Mobile Alabama hates sounding like a salesman, but when customer’s ask whether or not they should have their vacuum cleaners serviced, he’s always had a lot of reasons for saying yes.  And now, he has a doosey after seeing this recent news story.

A vacuum cleaner was cited as the cause of a fire that heavily damaged one apartment two weeks ago in a seven-unit Main Street complex.

The city issued a news release Friday afternoon reporting that investigator Mary-Ann MacMaster of the state fire marshal’s office has ruled the cause as accidental.

The first-floor tenant had finished vacuuming with a canister-style machine and left the apartment to run some errands.

When she left, there was no indication of any issue with the unit, but shortly thereafter other building tenants noted that the interconnected smoke alarms began to sound.

The city said it is unfortunate that the tenants assumed there was no problem and did not investigate further for another 10 to 15 minutes. And while the city stated that it was appropriate for someone to have opened the door to the apartment to see if anyone was inside, it should have been closed after the fire was detected. Leaving the door open allowed smoke to get out and helped fuel the flames.

The fire occurred on the afternoon of March 17 at 666 Main St. There were no injuries, but one apartment was heavily damaged by fire and the other units suffered smoke damage.

The building, which is owned by Erik Nelson and Dona Bergen of Tenants Harbor, is assessed at $265,000, according to city records.

The Rockland Fire Department advises residents in Friday’s news release that lessons can be learned from the fire. One is that smoke alarm activations must be treated as if there is a real fire.

Another tip by the department is that all powered equipment, despite built-in safety features, can be a source of ignition. With vacuums it is particularly important to remove the contents or bags whenever they are full, the department stated. A reduction in vacuum suction efficiency and/or a change in the sound of the unit could be signs of a problem with the machine, the department stated. An additional caution is to be very aware of what is being vacuumed up. Ashtrays, fireplaces and woodstoves can have tiny hot spots that aren’t seen but are easily hot enough to light the contents of a vacuum bag or canister.

Another lesson is the great value in closing doors and minimizing openings, the department stated in the news release.

These days when a customer asks whether to service their vacuum cleaner regularly or not, David Lord has one more good reason to say yes to his Alabama vacuum cleaner customers.