BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – In four days, there have been four house fires, and investigators believe they all share a common thread — people trying to keep their homes warm against the frigid winter chill.
On Tuesday, there were two fires.
In Mahoning Township, authorities believe a fire there was started by a space heater left on while the tenant went to work. That afternoon, a manufactured home in North Lima was also destroyed when the landlord and tenant tried to repair some heating tape to thaw frozen pipes.
“They were attempting to repair that, and evidently they plugged it back in, placed into the insulation, and it caught on fire,” said Beaver Twp. Fire Chief Russ Osborne.
The day before, a torch used to warm frozen pipes set fire to a house in North Beaver Township, and just Wednesday night, a sparking space heater is blamed for this mobile home fire in Weathersfield.
Experts said they understand people wanting to keep their homes from freezing, but they added that residents need to keep the risks in mind as well.
“Would you rather have icicles on the walls, or would you rather burn your house down? We obviously would recommend not leaving them unattended, ’cause you’re just going to have nothing but problems,” said Boardman Fire Lt. Will Ferrando.
Firefighters also stress the risks of residents take trying to put fires out themselves, instead of calling for help right away, as was the case during Tuesday’s North Lima fire.
“Grab a fire extinguisher, that’s fine, but have a cell phone in your other hand and call the fire department,” Osborne said.
The same is true if your furnace or space heater sets off your carbon monoxide alarm.
“That’s an emergency situation, you know, you should be calling 911 for that,” Ferrando said.
In Boardman alone this year, firefighters have averaged four or five carbon monoxide alarm calls every day.
To keep safe this winter, the State Fire Marshal has recommended the following tips for using space heaters or other alternative heating sources:
- Users should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for use;
- Keep children away from the heat source,
- Refuel petroleum-based heat units outdoors, once they’re cooled,
- And, have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
Hear our interview with the State Fire Marshal for more on fire safety and prevention.