Kenova, WV woman says a space heater sparked a fire at her home - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Kenova, WV woman says a space heater sparked a fire that nearly killed her

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As temperatures drop firefighters start getting more calls for fires caused by space heaters or other alternative forms of home heating. That according to South Charleston, WV firefighter Virgil White.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency an estimated 900 portable heater fires in homes in the United States cause an estimated 70 deaths and 150 injuries each year.

But there are some things you can do to prevent space heater related fires.

The devices can lead to fires if the proper safety procedures aren't followed.

"Don't use them. Throw them away," said Mary Smith, Kenova. "Wrap up in an extra blanket, whatever you have to do. But do not use a space heater."

Smith's home was destroyed by a fire this week.  

"I will never have another one, not ever," Smith said.

According to FEMA there are some things you can do to prevent fires caused by space heaters. Turn off heaters before you go to bed or when you leave the room. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the device. Items that could be a hazard include bedding, clothing and curtains. Look for a label on the heater that says it has been approved by a recognized testing laboratory. And never plug your space heater into a power strip or extension cord, instead plug it directly into the wall.

"This time of year with the cold temperatures we do see an increase in call volume," said Virgil White with the South Charleston Fire Department.

He said anyone using a space heater should read the manual carefully.

"That is going to give them advice on where to locate it and what to do and what not to do," White said.

According to federal government statistics, only 2 percent of heating fires in homes involve portable heaters. But portable heaters are to blame for 45 percent of all fatal heating fires in homes.

White said no matter how careful people are, there is always a chance something could go wrong. Which is why he said having a fire escape plan and smoke detectors throughout your home, is so important.

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