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Fire investigators provide heating tips during cold temps

SALISBURY — As overnight temperatures linger in the single digits, some people may seek alternative sources of heat for their homes. Fire officials want to remind residents to be careful with heating fuel and to use only traditional heating methods.

There have been nine residential fires since Christmas Day in Rowan County. Four of them were heating-related, said Rowan County Fire Division Chief Deborah Horne.

In one incident, a baseboard heater was set at 80 degrees during a cold spell. It caught the drapes on fire.

Last week, someone used a kerosene heater inside a well house to thaw the well, sparking another fire.

And investigators determined that a wood stove was overpacked and produced more heat than the piping could handle, causing another fire.

Just Friday morning, investigators said a chimney was to blame for a fire at a Poole Road house.

“Embers can become trapped and smolder,” Horne said.

She recommends during record low temperatures that homeowners always check baseboard heaters to make sure nothing is touching them and furniture is pulled away from the heat source.

Horne said overpacking a wood stove is something fire officials see a lot during this time of the year. She suggests that homeowners check the single or double wall piping.

“Some single wall pipes are not manufactured for high heat,” she said.

Horne advises property owners to have a professional check chimneys and fireplaces before the cold season begins to ensure they are in working order.

“There may be a malfunction you can’t see,” Horne said.

Fire Investigator Mark Troublefield said he recommends that anyone using a space heater or kerosene heater make sure there is at least 3 feet of space between the heater and any other object. He also advised against using a drop cord or other extension device and to plug the heater directly into an outlet.

“Clear all combustible material at least 3 feet away,” Troublefield said.

He said a grill should never be brought inside a home to heat it.

“Only use approved indoor sources,” Troublefield said.

A kerosene heater should be refueled outdoors in case kerosene spills.

Horne said for people trying to keep animals warm, a chicken warmer should suffice to keep dogs warm outside.

For more information on proper home heating practices, call Horne at 704-216-8916.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.



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