rat in the attic

 Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) indicate that 30 percent of home fires and 38 percent of home fire fatalities occur during the months of December, January and February.

Exterminators say small animals can get into attics and chew on wires, which can start a fire.

Mark Shetterly of Critter Control said 80 percent of homes have an animal issue where they cause damage in the attic. He said it's estimated that of those homes, 40-50 percent has wires that have been chewed on by animals.

Shetterly said while that doesn't always lead to a fire, it does happen.

"There are a lot of factors," Shetterly said. "But we've seen squirrels get electrocuted in the attic. A lot of it depends on if the wire is over a metal conduit or not."

Shetterly said industry experts believe when a fire is caused by an unknown origin that there's a 50-50 chance it was started by wildlife.

Shetterly suggested homeowners get an inspection from an exterminator. He said if the company notices signs of wildlife gnawing on wires it will remove the insulation, repair the wire and replace the insulation with cellulose insulation, which he said takes much longer to smolder than typical insulation.

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