WARNER ROBINS -- As Middle Georgia plunges into winter, it might be a good time for people to think about how trying to keep warm can sometimes lead to a fire truck in the front yard.
A home was destroyed in Warner Robins early Wednesday morning by a fire that investigators determined was caused by a space heater. No one was home at the time, and no one was injured.
Capt. James Franklin, public information officer for the Warner Robins Fire Department, said about five to six fires per year in the city are caused by space heaters.
Although he wasn’t sure about the Wednesday fire at 409 Granada Terrace, he said the most common reason space heaters start fires because they come in contact with flammable material.
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Space heaters always should be kept at least three feet away from any object in the home, he said. The heaters should also never be left unattended, and people shouldn’t sleep with space heaters on. That’s in part because covers might slide off the bed during the night and onto the space heater.
Also, many fire fatalities occur when people are sleeping because they are overcome with smoke inhalation before they awake to realize there is a fire.
Newer space heaters are safer, with features such as automatic shutoff if the heater falls over, but Franklin said the same precautions should be used. He also said oil powered space heaters are safer, but caution should also be used with those.
Franklin said many people who have central heat use space heaters to save money when they only want to heat one room.
While space heaters are the most common heating-related cause of house fires, it’s a good idea for people to have gas or electric central furnaces checked for potential safety problems, Franklin said. People with fireplaces should always be sure to use a screen and to be sure the chimney is clean and in good working order.
Regardless of the type of heat used or the time of year, Franklin said one the most important things people should do is make sure they have a smoke alarm and check the batteries.
People who want to know more about winter fire safety can visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s website, usfa.fema.gov.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.