Firefighters urge heating safety as local fires displace several families during holidays

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Posted at 9:59 PM, Dec 28, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.—Nearly half of all home heating fires happen from December to February, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Since Christmas Eve, there have been at least eight different fires in Hampton Roads, including four fires in four days in Virginia Beach.

Captain Steve Bradley with Chesapeake Fire Department says, the biggest concern this time year is home heating.

The causes of most of the most recent fires are still under investigation, but firefighters warn that most home heating fires are caused by space heaters.

“You want to keep them at least three feet away from anything that can burn,” said Bradley. He went on to say, “do not use a power strip or extension cord and there should never be more than one home heating plots plugged into a single outlet.”

Bradley encourages people to use and buy heaters that have tip over protection so that if it does fall, it automatically shuts off.

He says people should also to take precautions when using a wood-burning fireplace to heat their home, “You want to make sure that it's inspected and tested by qualified professional at least once a year,” said Bradley.

He warns that improper disposal of ashes is another common cause of home fires; 24 apartments were damaged in a Virginia Beach fire Sunday for exactly that reason.

Bradley says people commonly assume ashes have cooled and put them in a trash can where they ignite combustible material.

“That's why you want to make sure you place them in a metal container with a cover and place it away from the house, at least 10 feet away from the house, until it's time for disposal.”

Experts urge people to check now to make sure they have a working smoke alarm in every room and on every floor of their home. They suggest people test smoke alarms every month and change batteries twice a year if they don’t last for 10 years.