Firefighters issue warning about winter house fires

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Central Alabamians are battling through a cold stretch this week and firefighters know it can lead to dangerous situations.

A home on Coosa St. was destroyed by a fire Monday, and while there’s no indication that heating-related issues may have been the cause, firefighters are still using it as an opportunity to stress the importance of heating your home safely.

“Any time we have cold weather like this, the number fires that we have actually increases,” Birmingham Fire & Rescue battalion chief Sebastian Carrillo said. “That’s just due to the nature of people trying to heat with space heaters and using alternative heating methods.”

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 890 people die in winter house fires each year. That wasn’t the case on Coosa Street. Monday when all three occupants escaped and the presence of working smoke detectors may have played a role in that.

“Especially with this cold snap that we have coming through, I would admonish everyone to please take a second and check your smoke detectors at this time,” Carrillo said. “Smoke detectors actually save lives.”

But firefighters see too many situations where people don’t get out safely. The USFA reports that winter house fires result in 30-percent of all fire deaths nationally each year.

And even when winter house fires don’t take lives, they destroy property. The USFA estimates these fires cause $2-billion worth of property damage annually. Carrillo says many of these fires start with alternative heating methods like space heaters.

“If you are using space heaters, please keep a three-foot open space area around those space heaters from anything that could catch on fire,” he said.

He also says ovens and stoves also can lead to fires and reminds that they’re for cooking, not heating.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of Monday’s fire on Coosa St.


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