Heating the home is lead cause of fires during colder months - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Heating the home is lead cause of fires during colder months

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - It is the time of year Memphis fire investigators dread. Colder temperatures mean many people will improvise to stay warm.

Last year, the improper use of things like space heaters caused 62 structure fires. Even more the year before. The $15 investment into keeping warm could wind up costing you your life if used improperly.

A space heater left unattended or too close to combustibles is the worst fire offender during the colder months.

"We have nothing but the clothes on our back that we left out the house with," said Larry Pruitt in 2011, when his family lost everything after a house fire.

Investigators found a space heater in one of the bedrooms.

The Memphis Fire Department says from 2010 to 2013, a heater or heating stove caused 246 fires. So far this year, 62 fires have been started from heaters or stoves. Last year, the number was 71 and the year before that, 73. In 2010, there were 40 fires caused by heaters and stoves.

These fires resulted in more than $2.8 million in damage.

Across the country, about 9000 fires caused by space heaters are reported each year, causing not only damage but injuries and death.

If you purchase a space heater, make sure you invest in one with an automatic off switch so that it will turn off if it gets tipped over.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, heating is one of the leading causes of residential fires.

You can reduce the risk of fire by making sure your space heater is kept at least three feet away from anything flammable. And just as importantly, never leave the room or your house when one is in use.

There are many other fire dangers during the winter months, for example, kerosene heaters, fireplaces, and people using stoves to stay warm.

To read more tips from the Memphis Fire Department about preventing fires while heating your home, click here: http://www.wmctv.com/story/23949083/winter-fire-safety-tips 

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