On Sunday, a fire caused by a broken space heater in the Bronx, New York, killed 17 people including 8 children.
It was an avoidable tragedy, with a devastating outcome.
“Actually they are fairly common,” said Cindy Kettering the Public Information Officer for Bend Fire and Rescue regarding space heater fires.
Each year. local fire departments respond to 48,530 fires on average started by space heater-related issues, according to the National Fire Protection Association
The NFPA says portable heaters also count for 2 in 5 heating-related deaths.
Just a week and a half ago, an RV caught fire at Crown Villa RV Resort after the owner tried thawing sewer pipes with two space heaters.
“But the heater was put way too close to the plastic RV sewer line,” Kettering said, “which led to that line melting and igniting and ultimately destroyed that RV.”
And also this month, a family of five and two dogs escaped a La Pine mobile home that caught fire due to similar circumstances.
According to the NFPA, 54% of home heating fire deaths were caused by placing a portable heater too close to household objects.
Not cleaning your heater and continuing to use a malfunctioning heater, like the cause in New York, are other causes of portable heater fires.
“We recommend having 3 feet of space around anything that produces heat,” Kettering said.
Bend Fire also recommends checking your smoke alarms and installing carbon monoxide alarms just in case.
No matter how cold it gets, do not bring in your grill, portable generator, or any other outdoor heating tool into the house.
“Any solid fuel-burning appliance whether it burns wood, it burns pellets, it burns charcoal, it burns propane or butane,” Kettering said, “all of those are designed to be used outdoors, never indoors because they produce carbon monoxide.”
If you want to learn more about tips to keep yourself and your house safe and warm this winter season, you can check out the Bend Fire and Rescue tip page here.