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Local fires a reminder to stay safe; here are some key prevention tips

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 1/3/18

Two house fires in Middletown within a week is a reminder that more home fires occur in the winter than during any other time of year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

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Local fires a reminder to stay safe; here are some key prevention tips

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Two house fires in Middletown within a week is a reminder that more home fires occur in the winter than during any other time of year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The most recent fire occurred at a two-story single family home at Grant and Colfax streets on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 26. No one was home at the time, according to Middletown Fire Chief Mike Krupilis.

The fire started in the basement and extended into the first and second floors. The fire caused smoke and heat damage to about a third of the residence, Krupilis said. The fire is under investigation but the cause has not been determined.

The fire at Grant and Colfax follows by less than a week a fire in a row of townhouses in the 3100 block of Pineford Drive early on the morning of Dec. 20 that resulted in seven people being made homeless just before Christmas, including three children ages 1 to 3.

The Pineford fire is also being investigated, and while the cause has not been determined it is believed that the fire may have started as a result of a problem with a furnace in one of the units.

Despite two blazes within one week, Middletown firefighters on the whole are not seeing any more fire activity right now compared to other times of the year, Krupilis said.

However, the association says there is an increased risk of fire in the home during the winter months of December, January and February. Many of these fires are tied to increased reliance upon heating equipment.

With the severe cold conditions we are experiencing, it’s a good time to make sure you are not putting yourself or your family at risk. The association offers these tips to help prevent a fire in your home over the winter:

• If you use a fireplace to heat your home, you should have the chimney and vents cleaned and inspected at least once a year by a qualified professional — preferably before the mercury in the thermometer starts to tumble.

• Store cooled ashes from a fireplace in a tightly covered metal container, and keep the container outside at least 10 feet from your home and from any other nearby buildings.

• Keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and as far away as possible from your home.

• Install and test carbon monoxide alarms at least monthly.

• Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from heat sources such as fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators or space heaters.

• Plug only one heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.

Krupilis said you should never plug a space heater into a power strip or into an extension cord. Always plug the space heater directly into an outlet.

If you still have your Christmas tree up, make sure to water it. Inspect the lights to make sure that the wires are not frayed and that no bare wire is showing.

Finally — and this is good advice year-round — Krupilis said to make sure you have smoke detectors and that the detectors are working properly.

The two families displaced by the Dec. 20 fire at Pineford were both awoken by smoke detectors. Otherwise, things could have been much worse, said Middletown Deputy Chief Chris Coble.

The fire department on its Facebook page credited working smoke detectors with having “saved several families and prevented any civilian or firefighter injuries” during the Pineford fire.

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