N.J. Homeowner Sets Home on Fire Trying to Kill Bedbugs

roof of philadephia home that caught fire in attempt to eliminate bed bugs, shown in screen grab from WTXF-TV

Bedbugs have been the source of much anxiety and even dispute for landlords, tenants and homeowners alike -- but the source of a fire? Well, that's exactly what happened to a homeowner in Woodbury, N.J., whose home caught fire twice in one day: According to news accounts, the homeowner accidentally set the second floor of his home on fire Thursday while trying to rid the home of the pests.

The Philadelphia Inquirer quoted a Gloucester County, N.J., spokeswoman as saying that the male owner, who was not named in reports, used a space heater, hair dryer and heat gun in an attempt to rid a second-floor bedroom of the bedbugs. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, high heat may kill bedbugs: But in this case, all it did was start the first fire. That blaze was quickly put out. The cause of the second blaze was unknown but WPVI-TV in Philadelphia reported that it nearly gutted the structure.

The Associated Press reported that the homeowner was hospitalized with unspecified injuries. CBS Philadelphia also reported that three firefighters were injured while fighting the fires at the home.

Bedbugs Do's and Don'ts: Though high heat can kill bedbugs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, raising indoor temperatures with heat-emitting devices like space heaters simply "won't do the job." Special equipment that sustains very high temperatures are required for the successful eradication of bedbugs.

Woodbury Fire Marshall Joseph Buono told WPVI-TV that quick "Internet remedies" for killing bedbugs are a "catastrophe in the making." Homeowners should instead call a professional bedbug exterminator. The EPA adds that homeowners should avoid discarding bedbug-ridden mattresses or furniture to avoid spreading the infestation. Instead, have them professionally fumigated.

More about bedbugs:
Tenant Faika Shaaban Awarded $800,000 for Bedbug Infestation
Did Norah Jones Bring Bedbugs Home?
Bedbug Killers Brainstorm at Chicago Conference

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