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Fires Increasing due to "Tracking Phenomenon"

Recently, fires caused by the so-called "tracking phenomenon" have been increasing in the Tokyo metropolitan area. According to a survey made by Tokyo Fire Department, the number of such fires in last year was 63 (excluding vehicle fires), of which more than half (34 cases) were caused by electrical wiring devices.

The tracking phenomenon refers to a process in which conductive tracks are formed by carbonized dust, which can lead to a fire-inducing short circuit. When an electrical plug is inserted into an outlet, cotton dust and humidity may adhere to the plug and the outlet, allowing a tiny electrical current to flow between the inserted plug blades. This electrical flow may sometimes form a conductive carbonized route, i.e., a track that is prone to ignite.

Fires caused by tracking phenomena are difficult to find as they occur at outlets. If fires occur in night or when residents are away, they can result in significant damage due to delays in finding the fires. In order to prevent this type of fire, it is necessary to check plugs inserted into outlets to find and clean off any dust adhering to the plugs.