Fire Officials Urge Residents to Make Room Around Space Heaters After Friday Fire

Haverhill Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien. (WHAV News photograph.)

After a space heater fire Friday morning in Haverhill and with more bitter cold temperatures in the forecast, state Fire Marshal Jon M. Davine and Haverhill Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien are reminding residents to “Keep Warm, Keep Safe” and avoid fire and carbon monoxide hazards while heating their homes.

Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien said the fire started Friday, just after 8:30 at a two-family home near the corner of John and Franklin Streets. He said it “started with combustible items too close to a space heater,” adding, “Fortunately, working smoke alarms alerted residents to the danger—including one who was asleep—and everyone escaped safely. But, we want everyone to remember that space heaters need space. Please practice fire safety when heating your home.”

Davine said “Home heating equipment is the second-leading cause of residential fires and the main source of carbon monoxide at home. Working smoke and CO alarms are your first line of defense against these hazards. With furnaces, fireplaces and space heaters working overtime this weekend, be sure they’re installed on every floor of your home and test them to be sure you and your family are protected. Everyone in the home should know what to do when the alarm sounds: get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1.”

Like this fire, O’Brien said, “many space heater fires start with clothes, bedding and other combustible items too close to the heater. Keep electric space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn. Plug them directly into a wall socket, not an extension cord or a power strip, and remember that they’re intended for temporary use. Always turn a space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep.”

The fire marshal advised residents buy only space heaters that have been tested and labeled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Intertek (ETL). Newer space heaters should have an automatic shut-off switch that turns the device off if it tips over. Portable propane and kerosene space heaters are illegal for sale in Massachusetts and should not be used. “The risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning that they pose is too great,” he said.

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