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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.