Firefighters urge homeowners to be careful with space heaters

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 18, 2016)- On these cold nights, a lot of people depend on space heaters to keep warm. While space heaters are convenient, they can also be deadly.

“(We’ve) responded to fires where people have left to just run to the store, thought it was safe to leave the heater in place and when they come back they find their home on fire,” said Mike Pruitt, with the Wayne Township Fire Department.

We wanted to show you just how quickly the space heaters turn dangerous.

Within 30 seconds, the space heater registered at 200 degrees on a temperature gun. After running for a minute, the space heater was up to 400 degrees. It took only two minutes for it to reach in the upper 600s.

Within less than a minute, a basket of newspapers we sat next to the space heater started smoking.

“If I were to leave this up against this space heater within 2 minutes we’d have a full blown fire going in this room,” said Pruitt.

Space heaters should never be left unattended. Pruitt says the two biggest mistakes people make are having things too close to the space heater and keeping it on too long. There’s a three-foot rule. Make sure there is nothing to the sides, the front, or the back of the space heater.

“As you go through these cold periods of time, every night look at that space heater and think of the tragic consequences that could happen if you don’t use that properly,” said Pruitt.

In the past year and half, two people in Wayne County have died in house fires caused by space heaters.

Earlier this month, a family of seven escaped their burning home on the city’s east side. A space heater too close to a chair ignited the fire.

Always plug a space heater into a wall outlet and never use an extension cord. Fire officials say avoid buying old or use space heaters. If you buy a new space heater, you can be sure it has the up-to-date-safety features.

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