Tragic Oregon house fire ignited by space heater

portable-electric-space-heater.jpgOregon's fire marshal says that a home fire that claimed six lives last week in Riddle was probably caused by a portable space heater.

The heater, temporarily put to use after the home's fireplace malfunctioned, might have been placed too close to flammable items.

The small community 18 miles south of Roseburg is struggling to cope with the tragedy. Four of the six victims were children ranging from ages 4 to 13.

Space heaters rank among the top causes of house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. They account for 40% of home-heating fires and 84% of related deaths. The leading factor is heaters being placed too close to flammable items like upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, or bedding.

PEMCO lists heating among the top-10 factors to consider for home buyers. Homes should have adequate heat to avoid using portable heaters. If you choose to use one temporarily, do so only when monitored by someone in the room, and place the heater at least three feet away from combustible items. You also should keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from wood stoves, fireplaces, and baseboard heaters.

electrical outlet overloaded with plugsElectrical fires in general often can be prevented by following basic safety tips. Fires commonly involve overloaded outlets, baseboard heaters, and cords under throw rugs. PEMCO's recommendations:

·         Reroute cords around rugs.

·         Use certified power strips, not overloaded extension cords.

·         Don't place furniture against baseboard heaters.

·         Keep flammables at least three feet away from space heaters.

·         During the holiday season, never leave decorative lights on when n one's home, especially Christmas tree lights.

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