Space Heater Causes Another Home Fire

A grandmother and her two grandchildren lost everything they owned in a home fire Tuesday morning. Fire officials believe the cause is one that's all too common this season--a space heater.

It happened on C-R 3147 in Red Springs, near Lindale. Fortunately, no one was home at the time. The family recently inherited the residence and were in the process of repairing it. Everything inside was lost--they have no homeowners insurance to cover the damages.

Assistant Smith County Fire Marshal Oren Hale says he's worked five fires in the last week caused by space heaters or heating devices. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating devices are the leading cause of home fires between the months of December and February. Their latest study shows the devices caused 49,000 home fires in 1998.

In most cases, "the space heater is placed to close to combustibles, or its placed near a bed," says Hale. "Unfortunately, we have people using space heaters that are ten or fifteen years old."

Hale recommends buying newer models that have temperature controls and an auto shut-off capabilities if it should overheat or fall. Once you have a heater, make sure you don't plug it into an extension cords or place it near combustibles.

"These extension cords are not made to carry that amount of current," says Hale.

But space heaters are not the only danger.

"We've had a couple of wood burning stoves, fireplaces, central heating units that have not been properly checked out," Hale Says. A Flint couple lost this home two weeks ago when a wood burning stove caught fire. Hale says routine maintenance checks on heating equipment can decrease the likelihood of fires. He recommends hiring a chimney sweep before lighting a fireplace. Making a little effort can end up saving you a lot later.