Heat Sources Sparking More Fires As Cold Grips Oklahoma, Official Says

Friday, January 24th 2014, 5:03 pm
By: Craig Day

With folks trying to stay warm in our bitter cold weather, space heaters are sparking more fires.

Wagoner County has had two house fires in two days.

When it comes to heating our homes, firefighters say attention to detail could mean the difference in life and death.

There isn't much left at this home in Wagoner. It caught fire Thursday morning, but is still smoldering.

The home's metal roof made it difficult for fire crews to fight.

"It just made it like an oven in the house," Wagoner Fire Chief Kelly Grooms said. "When I arrived there, when I checked the front door, I couldn't put my hand on the front door; it was that hot."

One person got out of his home safely thanks to a smoke detector.

"We put over 15,000 gallons of water on the thing, the fire, trying to extinguish it, and it just kept coming back," Grooms said.

While the cause hasn't been determined, people inside were using space heaters for heat, which could be a potential cause.

On Wednesday, another home in Wagoner caught fire. It started when a chimney fire spread.

"They just happened to notice smoke on the ceiling, and when they turned their TV down, they could hear all the popping and crackling going up in the attic," Grooms said. "It was already burned up in the rafters, and it was burning a hole in the back of the house."

With our cold snap, Wagoner Fire Chief Kelly Grooms stresses how important it is for everyone to think about safety when it comes to home heating.

"It's easy to let go, you just think, ‘Oh, it's fine; it was fine last year. It's fine this year, you know.' And it's your life," Grooms said.

All of the house fires the Wagoner fire department have responded to so far this year are believed to be heater- or fireplace-related.

Grooms said space heaters need to have 2 to 3 feet of clearance from anything that could catch fire.

And fireplaces should be regularly inspected.

"On wood stoves, the biggest thing is just have them cleaned," Grooms said.

Firefighters also recommend not using extension cords for heaters, or at the very least check their condition frequently.