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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fires Caused by Space Heaters Keeping Firefighters Busy

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

Within the past 4 days the Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department extinguished 2 home fires that were caused by space heaters igniting nearby combustibles in bedrooms.  These 2 fires alone have displaced 11 adults and 2 children.  Fire loss is estimated at around $150,000 for both incidents.  We were fortunate no one was injured or killed during these incidents. 

According to the United States Fire Administration space heaters cause one-third of home heating fires and 4 out of 5 home heating fires deaths.

On Monday, January 4, 1:30 pm, firefighters encountered a fire in a 2nd floor bedroom of a townhouse in the 11900 block of Beltsville Drive in Beltsville.

This morning, January 7, at around 9:30 am, firefighters battled a fire in a bedroom of a single family home in the 1400 block of Early Oaks Lane in Chapel Oaks.

The cause of both fires - a space heater in a bedroom that ignited nearby combustibles (bedding material).  Because both of these occurred during the daytime, fortunately, there was no loss of life.  If you, your loved ones or other residents in your house are using a space heater, please, take the time to read our safety tips below.

“Colder temperatures during the winter season brings the highest number of home fires than any other time of year,” said Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor. “Each season, home fires increase in part due to cooking and heating fires. Fire safety and injury prevention must not be lost in an effort to stay warm. Stay warm and do so safely.  Safety First ensures everyone goes home.” 

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department recommend the following safety tips for space heaters. 

Space Heaters

·      Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). 

·      Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over or if placed too close to an object.
·      Heaters are not dryers or tables; don't dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. 

·      Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater.
·      Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use. 

·      Turn off at night or whenever you sleep. 
·      Never use an extension cord with space heaters - plug directly into wall socket.

Kerosene space heater 

·      Never refuel indoors.  
·      Remove the kerosene heater outdoors, turn off and wait for it to cool down before refueling and only use the correct type of fuel.

General Heating Tips  
•    Furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys should be cleaned and checked each year by an appropriate professional prior to using.  Clear away any clutter from these heating devices, at least 3 feet away.
•    Only use seasoned wood in fireplaces, never use ignitable liquids to start a fire and do not overload your appliance.
•    The 3-foot rule also applies to furnaces and fireplaces.  No combustibles items within 3 feet of these heating appliances.
•    Dispose of fireplace ash into a metal container and store outdoors away from structures on a concrete surface.  Fireplace ash can ignite a fire days after they have been discarded.

Finally, ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are working by pushing the test button on the front cover.  Your alarms should be tested monthly on the first day of every month - Safety First Day of the Month.  If you do not hear an audible warning, replace your alarm with a new 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature alarm.  Having a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, in hallways just outside of sleeping areas and in every bedroom in addition to a exit drill in the home plan and practiced dramatically increases your chances of surviving a burning home.  Remember to sleep with your bedroom door closed.

A working CO detector will protect you and your family from deadly "silent killer" fumes that may be building up in your home.  Remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family. 
For additional information from the USFA on Winter Fire Safety; click here.usfire.gov.

Residents are encouraged to utilize the Prince George’s County’s County 311 system to obtain information about public services and obtaining a smoke alarm installed in your home.

11900 block of Beltsville Drive $75K and family displaced as a result of a space heater fire (Brady)

Space Heater fires have kept firefighters busy over the past 4 days (Brady)

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