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A closed bedroom door prevents fire from destroying South Portland home

Firefighters say closing bedroom doors when sleeping or when you leave the house can save property and lives

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — A house fire in South Portland could have been a lot worse if not for a closed door.

Firefighters say a closed bedroom door is what stopped the home from being a total loss.

It may sound simple, but according to firefighters, closing a door could save your property but more importantly—your life.

When South Portland firefighters were called to a house at MacArthur Circle Sunday night, they discovered a fire on the other side of a closed second-floor bedroom door.

"We probably used 20 gallons of water to put that fire out, less than that really," Captain Jeff Rogers said. 

Credit: South Portland Fire Department

Less water because the residents, who were not home at the time, had shut the bedroom door, where the fire had started before they left. They actually had shut all of the bedroom doors.

Credit: South Portland Fire Department

"So fire needs oxygen to breathe and grow it ran out of oxygen and went down to a smoldering phase," Rogers explained.

Rogers responded to the fire and says that closed-door made all the difference.

"If you look from the fire room to the hallway the hallway is completely clear so that one room was the only room damaged."

Credit: South Portland Fire Department
Fire in a room with the door shut causes no damage to the hallway.

But what if the scenario was different? What if someone was inside the room and the fire was in the hallway?

"If you do open a door and it's too much smoke or can't get out, close the door, keep it shut," Rogers said. "That door is going to give you, even a hollow core door they say, it will give you 20 minutes of safety behind that fire."

Twenty years ago this November, NEWS CENTER Maine teamed up with the Freeport Fire Department and now retired Deputy Chief Ray Smith to show you first hand how closing a door can make all the difference.  

Using an old home donated for training purposes, firefighters burned the house down to show us in real-time what happens in a fire with a closed door versus one that is open. The end results: the room with the door closed suffered the least amount of damage, the room with the door open, some of the most.

Twenty years may have passed, but the message is still the same: Closing bedroom doors at night and when you leave the house could save your property and more importantly your life.

"If you keep that door closed that is a barrier between you and not being safe," Rogers said.

Several years ago, Underwriters Laboratories launched a campaign called Close Before You Doze which emphasizes, through information and videos, the critical importance of closing your doors.

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