Blazes spark fire safety lesson -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Blazes spark fire safety lesson

November 21, 2005

Thomasville, Georgia-- Three fires over the weekend have firefighters thinking about cooler weather, though at least one of them started because of carelessness.

With winter approaching, firefighters encourage you to use heat sources wisely and safely. "The owner of the house started a fire in the fireplace. It was left unattended and some sparks sparked out of the fireplace and caused the structure to burn," says Thomasville Firefighter, Curtis Bradshaw.

Bradshaw sees scenes like last week's all too often when the weather turns cold. "They think more wood, the faster the house is going to warm, and that's not the case," he says.

Bradshaw should know, he's Thomasville's fire safety officer. He says fireplaces are one of the two biggest culprits of winter housefires. "If you're going to use the fireplace, at least have a catch screen to catch the sparks," says Bradshaw. Firefighters say to also make sure the chimney is clear, don't overload the fireplace, and put the wood in the rear. An annual inspection is recommended too.

Space heaters are the second biggest cause of wintertime fires. "It doesn't take too much for a space heater to start a fire. People will actually leave it too close to the wall, too close to the bed," says Bradshaw.

Firefighters say to keep space heaters at least three feet from anything flammable, buy one with an automatic turn off, or make sure to do it manually when you're not around. Also, don't use extension cords with space heaters.

Those simple steps on the front end can help make sure you don't take the wrong step on the back end. "Any time the firefighters have to leave the fire station, it's a sad day for somebody," says Bradshaw. Especially the more than 200 people killed in home heating related deaths nationwide last year.

Firefighters stress that if a fire does start, get out of your house immediately. You only have a matter of seconds before the smoke overwhelms you.