Electrical overload starts fire in Pismo: Blaze causes $250,000 in damage

A fire in Pismo Beach that damaged an 83-year-old building started when too many electrical appliances were plugged into one outlet in a tattoo studio located on the second floor of the two-story building, according to fire officials.

The fire caused $150,000 worth of structural damage and $100,000 worth of damage to contents, including some art in the tattoo shop, Tina Rose, a fire prevention officer with Cal Fire, said Tuesday.

Building owner and Pismo Beach resident Don Day said he was having the apartments, some of which had smoke damage, cleaned and hoped the residents could return by Tuesday night.

The fire, which started about 6 p.m. on Monday, had displaced residents of three of the building’s 11 apartments. However, the Red Cross helped all but the residents of one apartment stay elsewhere overnight, Day said. An investigation Monday night found that an electrical overload had started a fire in a corner of Manakin Tattoo, where larger appliances, including a stereo, photocopier and computer were plugged into one circuit.

Day said the business at 649 Dolliver St. does not have insurance.

While flames did not spread far beyond the tattoo shop, some of the apartments and businesses had smoke damage. The Animal Kingdom pet shop, located on the first floor, had water damage.

Rose said the animals, including dogs, rabbits, hamsters and birds, were relocated temporarily to the owners’ Grover Beach store.

Other businesses on the building’s first floor include Hot Shots Billiards, Pizmo Cafe and Mr. Wong’s restaurant.

The billiards room had a fire-sprinkler system; the apartments and the tattoo shop did not, Rose said.

The working smoke detectors and fire-alarm system notified residents and business employees to evacuate the building, she said. Firefighters rescued two dogs and one cat belonging to residents.

Day has owned the 24,000-square-foot building, since 1984.

He said Monday that he spent $300,000 to structurally retrofit the building and install a new roof more than a year ago.

“Most (of) the tenants are open and doing business,” Day said. “It’s not the end of the world; it’s a bump in the road.”

Fire safety tips

Tina Rose, a fire prevention officer for Cal Fire, shared several tips on home electrical equipment:

• Don’t overload power strips. Check instructions when buying a new piece of equipment to see how to safely plug it in.

• Unplug any malfunctioning equipment. If you feel any heat whatsoever near the power strip, or if any of the equipment is malfunctioning, unplug it.

• Don’t use an extension cord in lieu of permanent wiring.

• Hire a licensed electrician to perform all electrical work.

• Don’t plug power strips together; they are not designed to perform that way.

• Replace old outlets when possible with modern ones that accept three-pronged polarized plugs. Never alter a plug to fit an outdated outlet.

• Unplug toasters, coffee makers and other small appliances when they’re not in use.

• Allow adequate ventilation around computers, stereo systems and all electric components to prevent overheating.

• Replace cracked and frayed electrical cords.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.