The home at 747 Queen Anne Rd. in Harwich was ablaze this week and the cause was a mystery, at first. No one lived there in the winter. The home was an unoccupied vacation property.
My old days in the news business taught me that an unoccupied building that catches fire is definitely suspicious. But the cause of this one was different.
The Harwich Fire Department concluded that a mirror hanging in the outdoor shower is what touched off the fire. And apparently, these outdoor shower fires are common.
The sharp, low angle of the sun caught the mirror at just the right angle, and focused intense light onto the dry wooden wall of the shower. Spontaneous combustion ignited the wood and there went the back of the house.
I hang an outdoor mirror in my shower in the summer months but from now on I'll be sure to place the mirror on a north-facing wall, out of reach of the sun's powerful rays. Until this Harwich house fire, I thought the biggest risk from an outdoor shower was a tumble on occasionally mossy, slippery flooring. But not anymore. Now I know an outdoor shower can spark a fire by itself, and burn the house down.