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Heater ruled cause of Franklin house fire

Officials warn of home heating dangers

Post Date:01/06/2010 2:00 PM

Franklin, TN – Investigators have determined that combustibles placed too close to a wall heater caused the Dec. 12 fire that destroyed a Hill Estates home, according to Franklin Fire Marshal Andy King. The fire ignited just before midnight at 207 Walnut Dr. and left six people homeless. No one was injured.

With the continuing cold weather, King is urging residents to follow the “three foot rule” when using heaters. “Keep anything that will burn at least three feet away from wall heaters, portable space heaters and other similar heating devices,” said King.

U.S. Fire Administration data shows that heating is the second leading cause of house fires nationally. More than 20 percent of home fire deaths are caused by heating equipment, and nearly half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February.

Here are some simple steps from the National Fire Protection Association that can prevent most heating-related fires from happening:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, such as the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable heater.
  • Only use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory. 
  • Never use your oven for heating. 
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
  • Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. 
  • For fuel burning space heaters, always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer and refill the heater according to directions.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room and burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing in a tightly covered metal container, which is kept at least 10 feet away from the home and any other nearby buildings. Douse and saturate with water.
  • For wood burning stoves, install chimney connectors and chimneys following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation.
  • Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. 
  • If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not attempt to light the appliance. Turn off all the controls and open doors and windows. Call a gas service person. 
  • Have working smoke alarms and CO alarms and test them monthly. Replace them according to manufacturers’ instructions, generally every 10 years for smoke alarms and every 5-7 years for CO alarms.

Walnut Dr. heater fire

The wall heater unit involved in the Walnut Dr. fire is shown at the bottom of this photo.

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