Multiple families were left homeless after a December 8 blaze ignited a Cincinnati duplex home. The duplex, which had five units, displaced a total of 10 people.
The blaze, which broke out at approximately midnight, started on the first floor of the home when a woman attempted to use alcohol to exterminate a bedbug infestation near an open flame. Cincinnati fire officials say that the fire was ignited by either a candle or incense.
“The entire house was up in flames when I got here,” said Kamaron Lyshe.
Brenda Lyshe-Berry was merely grateful that her family was safe.
“We’re unharmed, but in disbelief,” Lyshe-Berry wrote on GoFundMe. “We’ll have to start over and rebuild.”
The fire is not the first of its kind in recent years. A New Jersey man set his home on fire in 2013 after attempting to rid his home of bedbugs using multiple heat sources. A Detroit man injured himself and set his apartment on fire in 2016 in an attempt to rid the flat of bedbugs.
Fire Chief Randy Freel took advantage of the media to remind the public of how to appropriately deal with infestations.
“Please consult a professional exterminator,” Freel stated.
Bedbugs are winged parasites that feed exclusively on blood. Tiny and reddish-brown, bedbugs feed on a variety of warm-blooded hosts. Female bed bugs lay just five eggs a day and can lay hundreds in her lifetime. Bedbugs and their feces have been linked to some health issues including bites, psychological symptoms, skin rashes, and other allergic reactions. They are known to be carries of disease, but it is not believed that the parasites can transmit those diseases to humans.
Orkin, a professional extermination company, has laid out recommendations on their websites for dealing with a variety of bedbug infestations. According to the website, very light infestations can be treated by baking infested objects at 125 degrees for three to five hours. One other possible DIY treatment solution is to place infested objects in a sealed plastic bag and freeze below 0 degrees Fahrenheit for days.
Major and household infestations require more than what the average homeowner can do on their own and Orkin suggests calling in the professionals.
The December 8 fire is the second house fire in Cincinnati caused by an unlicensed individual attempting to end a bedbug infestation.