Features

Lesser lights

"Lesser lights" Continued...

Issue: "Focus on Mitt Romney," July 16, 2011

That burning smell

In 2009 a Hinsdale, Ill., family didn't notice the package warning about dimmer switches and compact fluorescent lamps until too late: A blaze in their basement was apparently triggered by CFL bulbs on a dimmer, though no one was injured.

Reports of CFL bulb fires have made local news over the past three years, but it's unclear whether CFLs are more dangerous than incandescents, which are hot and fire prone themselves. Fire officials don't have enough data on CFL fires to draw a firm conclusion about the bulbs' risk, said U.S. Fire Administration spokesman Tom Olshanski.

The biggest fire suspects may simply be cheap brands: Trisonic and Telstar CFLs, both sold in discount stores for between $1 and $1.50, were recalled in October and May after being linked to fires. According to bulb makers, though, it's normal for all CFLs to pop or smoke when they "burn out"-so don't panic if you smell something burning.

Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is a reporter for WORLD who covers science, technology, and other topics in the Midwest from his home base in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

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