How to avoid a home heating fire

Blaze near Willis on Wednesday night prompts officials to offer safety tips

By Michelle Ganley - Online Editor
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Photo courtesy the Montgomery County Fire Marshal's Office

WILLIS, Texas - No one was hurt, but a two-story home just northeast of Willis was destroyed by a fire on Wednesday night, officials said Thursday.

The blaze started in a wall, near the homeowners’ wood-burning fireplace, according to the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office.

The Samuel Drive resident woke up to find the flames. When three engines and three tankers arrived, fire officials found heavy fire conditions that had spread throughout the home, a news release said.

As cooler weather rolls in, homeowners need to be aware of the increased risk they face from home heating equipment, officials said.

“Heating is a major cause of home fires in the United States, second only to cooking fires,” Montgomery County investigators said. “Portable space heaters (are) responsible for (the) vast majority of home heating fire deaths.”

As people fire up their home’s heating appliances, sometimes for the first time this year, they’re encouraged to keep working smoke detectors throughout the house, especially in all sleeping areas. Often, these fires start in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep.

Having working smoke alarms dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire.

December, January and February are the peak months for home heating fires.

A leading factor contributing to home heating fire deaths is heating equipment that sits too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.

Many heating fires can be prevented by following basic safety tips when dealing with any heating equipment:

·     Keep or maintain a 3-foot clearance between all heating equipment and anything that can burn.
·     Inspect and maintain heating equipment regularly for safety.
·     Be sure to have fixed space heaters installed by a qualified technician, according to manufacturer’s instructions or applicable codes. Or, make sure a qualified technician checks to see that the unit has been properly installed.
·     When buying a new portable space heater, make sure it has the label showing it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories.
·     Turn off your space heater every time you leave the room and before going to bed.
·     Choose space heaters that turn off automatically if they tip over.
·     Never use a space heater to dry clothing.
·     Do not use your oven to heat your home.
·     Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.  

For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home.  When one sounds, they all sound. 

·     Test smoke alarms monthly.
·     If your home is equipped with gas appliances, install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
 
For more safety tips, visit this website.

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