Fire investigator: Space heater to blame for fire - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Fire investigator: Space heater to blame for fire

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – A space heater fire has left six North Jonesboro residents homeless.

According to the Jonesboro Fire Department, fire crews were called to a working house fire at 204 Mulberry Street around 8:45 Thursday morning. Heavy smoke could be seen by the fire department as they approached the scene.

Fire investigators believe the fire may have started because of a re-wired space heater.  The fire was mainly on the backside of the home, but the entire home suffered heavy smoke damage.

The six men living in the home escaped with their lives but many times space heater fires kill. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters account for nearly a third of all home heating fires and four out of 5 home heating fire deaths

Fire Marshall Jason Wills with the Jonesboro Fire Department says space heaters aren't inherently dangerous but often used incorrectly.

Wills, "Usually if we see a fire that is because of the heater, in a lot of cases it's not because the heater has had a problem, it's because there are combustibles that are too close to the heater."

Newer types of heaters have many built in safety features like tip over switches and circuit breaker trips for overheating, an element will fuse when the temperature goes beyond normal operating temperatures.

We tried to get a heater to catch fire. We used it outside, inside, with a blanket covering the heater, partially on, we could never get the heater to cause problems. Or a fire.  JFD firefighters used a thermal scanner that showed the heat level going up and down avoiding combustion.

But just because ours didn't catch on fire doesn't mean yours couldn't. Wills has some tips for keeping your heaters combustion free.

Wills, "Common sense goes a long ways as far as keeping a safe distance from other combustible items making sure they are a safe distance away from the space heaters."

Three feet away from anything is a good rule of thumb and cord safety is important as well.  Don't use extension cords on space heaters or walk on the space heater's cord or place it under a rug.

Wills, "Traffic can cause the cord to develop worn spots exposing open wires which are a fire hazard as well. Actually don't place anything over the cord. In some cases the cord can overheat."

Wills said a bad cord repair and clothing too near the heater probably caused the Mulberry Street  fire in Jonesboro on Thursday.

Be warm, but be safe when using space heaters.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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