Space heaters may have caused house fires - WNEM TV 5

Space heaters may have caused house fires

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Fire crews have been busy fighting multiple blazes in the middle of this frigid cold.

Two of them may have been caused by the same reason - space heaters.

While many of us use them to keep warm, they can be dangerous if they aren’t maintained.

We’re only five days into the new year and the city of Saginaw has already seen three homes catch on fire, two in the last 24 hours.

“Both of these were bedroom fires which leads to the chance of it being a space heater,” said Ralph Martin, Fire Marshall for the Saginaw Fire Department.

Martin said the fire on Jan. 4 on  Court Street was caused by a faulty space heater.

The fire on Jan. 5 on Bethany Street might have the same outcome.

“Mom thinks she did have her space heater on in the bedroom where the fire started,” said Gregory Simmons, battalion chief for the Saginaw Fire Department.

Shortly after the homeowner left for work a smoke detector woke up her two teenage kids.

They escaped without injury, but their house wasn’t so lucky.

“It was one bedroom and primarily the contents of that bedroom and a little bit of an extension fire out of that bedroom,” Simmons said. “They’re not going to be able to live here for a couple of days obviously, but it doesn’t look like it’s a total loss.”

The record-breaking low temperatures here in Mid-Michigan are causing many people to go out and buy space heaters, but the Saginaw Fire Department recommends you do your research before plugging one in.

Here are the top five space heater safety tips:

  1. Choose a heater that has a seal from an independent testing laboratory
  2. Keep the heater three feet away from anything flammable
  3. Make sure your heater has an automatic shut-off option
  4. Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet and never use an extension cord
  5. Shut off the space heater when leaving the room or sleeping

Martin said accidents happen, so you should make sure your family has plans in place in case disaster strikes.

“Every family should make sure they have escape plan in their home. Make sure all smoke detectors are working and that you have a carbon monoxide detector inside your home also. That’s very important this time of year," Martin said.

Additional tips include:

  • Pick a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection
  • Place the heater on a solid, flat surface
  • Keep space heaters out of the way of foot traffic and make sure it never blocks an exit
  • Keep children away from the space heater

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