LONGVIEW - When the temperatures start to cool, the Longview Fire Department gets calls about people putting themselves at risk just to stay warm. A family is without a home after their's caught on fire October 29. Fire investigators said the cause of the fire was due to the homeowner using the stove top as a source of heat. Fire Marshal Kevin May said he discourages homeowners from using any cooking surfaces or appliances to keep warm.
"You still run the risk of something falling on it [burner] that doesn't have a pan," May said.
One has probably smelled an odor after cutting on the heat. May said it's likely, the dust and dirt built-up in the vents. Before flipping the switch, May said it's imperative to get the system checked or else; one could risk carbon monoxide poisoning.
"When all that stuff's burning it doesn't put off a heat," Mays said. "It can set your smoke detectors off."
Firefighters have suggested installing 'c.o. detectors'. However, space heaters and it's safety shouldn't be taken for granted. Fire crews recommended having them cleaned before use and three feet away from a: person, blanket or combustibles when it's on. Statistics show space heaters are involved in 79 percent of fatal home heating fires. Fire Marshal May suggested purchasing the electric heaters that shut off when tipped over.
Firefighters said a smoke detector should be present in every household. If one is renting, fire officials said it's the landlord's responsibility to provide one. Homeowners who don't have one can contact the fire department (in Tyler or Longview) to help correctly install one.
Keeping the house warm can be an expense and difficult on a budget. That's why the Salvation Army in Longview can help. They have a partnership with SwepCo. Their 'Neighbor to Neighbor' program can assist help pay off up to $200 on an electric bill. Households can sign up for it. The Salvation Army said it's helped many families during a time of need.
The Salvation Army said Neighbor to Neighbor requires a disconnect notice. The program will help pay for an electric bill, once every calendar year. Meaning, if one received assistance today, they wouldn't be able to get help until the same day, the following year.
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