Fire officials warn of fire dangers ahead of holidays

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Officials with the Jonesboro Fire Department told Region 8 News Tuesday that several house fires have been reported in December. According to Division Fire Chief Marty Hamrick, five structure fires have been reported, but he said firefighters have made many more emergency runs.

"Some of the reasons are it's colder, people are forced indoors or staying inside more. you got your holiday decorations out. people are overloading extension cords, lights for their trees in their house, that becomes a problem," said Hamrick.

Hamrick said fires pick up during the winter months, especially during the holidays. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a majority of fatal fires have been reported from improper heating sources.

"Usually it's a combination of things. You think of it being the Christmas lights but some of the times that does impact it, but most of the ones we see are the normal, ones we see all of the time. There just happens to be a higher occurrence during the winter months," said Hamrick.

Firefighters Tuesday morning were called out to the corner of Allis and Word Streets shortly after midnight. Upon arrival, flames were shooting through the roof and the home was later destroyed. No one was injured in the incident.

"Crews arrived. They already had heavy smoke and fire showing through it. It ended up going through the roof and they ended up being there for a long time. It turns out that one is probably going to be some faulty or old wiring," said Hamrick.

Firefighters were on scene for more than six hours at that fire when another fire started at an apartment complex on Melrose Street. Hamrick said someone had broken into the vacant apartment and set it on fire. He said minor damage was reported.

"We had every available crew that was on duty at one or the other incidents," said Hamrick.

Hamrick said Tuesday morning was not normal due to the fact there were two major fires within a few hours of each other; however, he said he expects the rate of fire calls to pick up.

"Some of the times in the older homes that people maybe are renting out or maybe have been in for a long time, they've kind of fallen into a state of disrepair and the wiring is one of the things that never gets brought up," said Hamrick. "A lot of times in older homes, you still have the old knob and tube wiring. They're not up to code and we start trying to throw the loads today, with microwaves and TVs and refrigerators, all that stuff hooked in there. The old wiring just can't support that kind of load."

Hamrick said to avoid fire, make sure your home is up to code and follow the manufacturer's guidelines on all appliances and holiday decorations.

"Most of them say about three strands is all you can hook together, but if you're having problems. You're using a surge protector and it's tripping out or your breaker box is tripping out, that's the first sign telling you you're having problems," said Hamrick. "Especially the live trees; if you fail to water them regularly. Just make sure the little bowl down there is always full of water, you shouldn't have too many problems."

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