Fires Spark As Oklahomans Attempt To Keep Warm

Thursday, January 8th 2015, 10:43 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa firefighters put out seven house fires Thursday, most of them were the result of people trying to stay warm in the bitter cold weather.

Half of all house fires happen in December, January and February; many involve space heaters and fireplaces which, firefighters said, can be deadly.

1/8/2015 Related Story: Family Dog Dies In Early Morning Tulsa House Fire

Space heaters account for one-third of all home-heating fires a year, and on one of Oklahoma's coldest day of the year, it cost Chuck Grayson and his family their home.

"I'm homeless now," Chuck said.

All he wanted to do was sit by the fire, and stay warm, now he wishes he never would have done it.

1/8/2015 Related Story: Six People Escape From Burning Tulsa Home

He said it's crazy because he's homeless after the house he shares with five others, including two children, caught fire.

"I've been at home all day sitting there watching the fire. It's been burning perfectly. All of a sudden, all of this black stuff just dropped out of the fireplace and fire just went everywhere."

The home they rent near 41st and Mingo is one of a number of houses with damage caused by fires.

There's physical damage to the house and belongings, but the emotional damage is even worse; two of the family's pet dogs died.

"I was floored because my brother called me and said the dogs at the house were on fire and I lost my dogs," said renter, Neda Grayson.

Oreo is the only dog that made it out alive.

While the investigation into what started the fire is ongoing, Tulsa Fire Captain Stan May said fireplace and space heaters are causing most fires that are happening now across Tulsa.

1/8/2015 Related Story: No Cause Yet For Fire Which Destroyed West Tulsa House

“Space heaters, they need to be three feet away from anything that's combustible - that includes carpet. So you need to find a hard surface to set them on, make sure they have plenty of room," May said.

Other safety precautions include:

  • Never using your oven to heat your home.
  • Cleaning chimneys and other heating equipment.
  • Turning portable heaters off when leaving a room
  • Testing smoke detectors
  • Putting a sturdy screen in front of the fireplace.

Chuck wishes he had been more aware.

"Take care of your family because you could lose everything in an instant," he said.

It's recommended that you change your air filters twice a year and clean your air ducts and vents.