Local Departments Battle Structure Fires
First responders offer safe heating tips
By Sabrina Bates
MVP Regional News Editor
The Sharon and Martin fire departments had a busy weekend battling two structure fires.
On Sunday, the Sharon FD spent the afternoon extinguishing a shop fire off of Sidonia Highway. The department was called to the scene at 3049 Sidonia Highway 89, Sharon, around 3:15 p.m.
Information released by SFD Chief Gary Eddings cites while en route with two engines and a rescue truck, heavy black smoke could be seen from Sharon, and the department called Greenfield Fire Department for mutual aid.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, a metal shop building was fully involved with flames. The building contained a vehicle, tires, and oil containers. A nearby, cut soybean field and woods had also caught fire. It took approximately two and a half hours for personnel to clear the scene. The preliminary cause of the fire was determined to be a wood-burning stove inside of the building. The owner told the Sharon Fire Department a friend was working in the shop and left for a brief period of time. When he returned, the building was on fire.
The GFD and Sidonia Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid by supplying water for the Sharon FD.
The cause of a trailer fire in Martin on Saturday is deemed “undetermined.” Martin firefighters were working to clear the scene of a motor vehicle accident at the McDonald’s intersection that afternoon when the call came through for a residential fire at Lot 29 in Harper’s Trailer Park, located at 12204 Highway 45. The MFD responded with its ladder truck, two engines, a rescue truck and ambulance.
The report came in right after 1 p.m. Saturday. Personnel were on the scene for approximately two hours. The fire started in one of the bedrooms of the trailer, with a cause deemed unknown. The Sharon Fire Department was called to provide mutual aid and assist in handling calls in Martin while the MFD worked to clear both scenes Saturday.
Cold temperatures are bringing their share of safety concerns when it comes to heating equipment. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters account for about one-third of home heating fires and 80 percent of home heating fire deaths annually.
Last week, members of the Dresden Fire Department issued a public safety announcement offering tips for alternative heating sources.
“With the quick change in temperatures over the next few days, make sure you are heating safely! Here are a few tips to keep your family safe and not have an unexpected visit from us! Stay safe and call us if you need us,” the Dresden Fire Department noted, in addition to the following safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association.
As temperatures drop, families often look for alternative ways to generate heat throughout their homes. While space heaters and fireplaces are good sources of warmth, they can be very dangerous. Families should use extreme caution with all alternative heating devices.
According to the NFPA, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths, with almost half of these fires occurring in the months of December, January and February. Common household mistakes contribute to the majority of these fires, such as placing flammable objects too close to heating equipment.
The NFPA recommends the following safety precautions when using heating equipment:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment such as a portable space heater, fireplace, wood-burning stove or furnace. The three-foot safety zone includes furniture, drapes, electronics — anything that can burn.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Never plug a space heater into a power strip or “multi-plug.” They should be plugged directly into an outlet.
- Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not place an electrical cord under a rug. Dispose of older, fraying extension cords.
- Always use only the type of fuel specified by the manufacturer for fuel burning space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood, or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.
- Test smoke alarms monthly.