How to avoid home fires this fall and winter

MEDFORD, Ore. — The first freeze of the season in the Rogue Valley could have many people lighting their fireplaces for the first time since last winter. It’s also the time of year Jackson County Fire District 3 said it sees the most home fires.

Fire crews say it’s all too common to see fires sparked by chimneys and space heaters this time of year. They say following simple rules, along with proper maintenance, can mean the difference between a nice warm home and disaster.

With sub-freezing temperatures in the forecast, fire officials are asking you to make sure your chimney is clean and ready for winter. “It’s good practice to be able to get it checked to make sure it’s in proper working order for that year,” said Jackson Co. Fire District 3 Public Information Officer Ashley Blakely. “We want to eliminate any potential for those flue fires that can be very tragic and destructive.”

Uncleaned chimneys can cause smoke to backup or spark a potentially dangerous fire, but that’s not the only area of concern for firefighters. “If you are using a portable heater that you are using it to the manufacturer’s recommendations,” Blakely said. “Make sure there’s a nice buffer around the space heater to make sure there’s no flammables nearby that could catch fire.”

“It’s better to be prepared, over-prepared, than underprepared,” said Christi MacLaren with American Red Cross, “just to make sure that your basic needs of self-sufficiency during a time of disaster are met.”

A couple of space heater tips, make sure you clean dust off of it before plugging it in and never plug a space heater into an extension cord.

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