by Larry Lemmons
Amarillo, Texas - Four out of five fires in the winter are caused by heating devices.
Every year when the weather gets cold the Amarillo fire department reminds people of the dangers of improperly handling space heaters. They say getting the word out is working, but the danger remains. Heating equipment during the winter months becomes the number one cause of house fires. Space Heaters provide welcome warmth in the dead of winter, but they can also be dangerous if handled improperly.
However, a fire can be easily avoided if you follow some simple rules. Captain Bob Johnson of the Amarillo Fire Department says, "So if we can keep three feet of space around this heater, if we can stay in the room with it, while we're using it, and then if we decide to leave the room, the safe thing to do is to unplug it...We had a fatal fire a few years ago caused by a space heater that was too close to the bed."
At the Tyler Street Resource Center, 2-1-1 Texas is asking for donations of space heaters. Paul White says, "It's a drive designed to get space heaters to lower income and elderly populations. Our target populations is people over 60, families with infants under two, and people that are under permanent disability."
Many people have had their heat cut off or they're living in older, drafty houses.
White says, "Last year we had just shy of 60 people signing up. I believe it was 58. Unfortunately we only got about 30 heaters. So we're trying to make this a better year and try to get heaters to more people."