GILBERT (3TV/CBS 5) - A house in Gilbert was leveled by a massive fire on Thanksgiving weekend. And a possible cause is linked to something we probably do every day in our homes. 


On Nov. 24, the Tashjian family was going to put their 15-month-old daughter, Savannah down for a nap. But they went on a bike ride, instead.


"Our daughter Savannah's room was across from the laundry room," said Jonny Tashjian. That laundry is where where investigators believe the fire started.

"Her crib her dresser, it's all up in flames, and when we think if we would have been here, we might not have her as part of our family," Jonny Tashjian said. 

Savannahs Room 1.jpg

One of the few things that survived the fire is a sign that they got right after they were married. 

"They're telling us the fire initiated in the laundry room because of an exhaust fan," Jonny Tashjian said. 

"I have worked with the Consumer Products Safety Commission on exhaust fan fires," said investigator David Zehring with Gilbert Fire & Rescue. "It's not only a problem in Gilbert, it's a problem across the United States."

Zehring said the official cause is "undetermined," but said exhaust fans are not designed to be on more than 20 minutes.

"Either the motor seizes up or the plastic cover will from the motor seizing up will fall down below inside the structure and whatever it lands on ignites," Zehring said. 

He said in addition to making sure they're off, clean the dust around the vent, and get it fixed if it's making a weird noise.

"We feel like we were protected somehow," said Brittany Tashjian. "We're really grateful that our kids are here we're safe that's what matters."

If you'd like to help, you can visit their GoFundMe page.

Award-winning journalist Lindsey Reiser is a regular contributor in the evenings on CBS 5 News at 10 p.m.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.



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(2) comments


Must be more to this story. Everyone very lucky that fire started when house vacated for bike ride. Have never heard (or can find) any support for "exhaust fans not designed to run longer than 20 minuets" ... Must be out of context as it seems this would be an amazing thing for a fire investigator to say. Must have meant "20 min after it freezes up" ...


That blows...

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