As a Macon man was sleeping in his bedroom Tuesday night, a space heater started a fire in the living room.
He might owe his life to Macon-Bibb firefighters who installed a free smoke detector nearly a year ago in the house at 1117 Washington St. off Log Cabin Drive.
“He heard the smoke alarm and went into the living room, saw the fire and got out,” said Sgt. Ben Gleaton, an investigator for the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department. “After we got to digging, we found the space heater at the corner of the couch, and it was on.”
Without the smoke detector warning, the man might have succumbed in the fire that was reported at 8:30 p.m.
That call came a little more than three hours after firefighters were called to another blaze started by a space heater at 2721 Alta Vista Ave. off New Clinton Road.
“The space heater in the living room was too close to a mattress on the floor and it was plugged into about three extension cords,” Gleaton said.
The residents also were using burners on the stove for heat and left the house with the heater and the burners still on.
Stoves should never be used for auxiliary heating, he said.
With wind chills forecast to plummet to single digits early Thursday, firefighters warn of heightened fire dangers as people try to keep warm.
“I tell folks to treat a space heater like it’s an open flame, like a mini-fireplace,” Gleaton said. “Don’t plug them into anything but the wall, either. They are not designed to run on drop cords.”
Fire prevention officers warn to keep combustible items at least three feet away from heaters, and don’t leave them running when leaving the room or going to bed.
Winds are expected to gust up to about 35 miles per hour until mid-morning Thursday, which could whip smaller fires into an inferno.
“No outside fires tonight. No,” Gleaton said.
Everyone should test smoke detectors, too, and change batteries, if necessary.
Free smoke detectors are available for those in need by calling the Macon-Bibb Fire Dept. at 751-9180.