Local firefighters: simple steps can avoid big fires while heating homes

Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 6:36 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - With frigid temperatures expected this week in the metro area, heating homes will be a top priority, but local first responders say it’s important to also take the easy steps to prevent fires.

From correctly disposing of hot ashes, changing your furnace filter, or getting a chimney inspection, Lt. Ron Morgan at Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue says simple tasks can avoid major consequences.

Just last week, TVF&R fought a large fire in Beaverton at an apartment complex, investigators saying the fire started after fireplace ashes were not disposed of correctly. Lt. Morgan says there are other common practices that can lead to fires when people are heating their homes.

“Some of the biggest challenges and problems that we see is that people use indoor appliances such as a stove or space heaters to provide heat, and while a stove isn’t a good idea, a space heater works well but you need to make sure you have at least 3 feet of clearance around the space heater,” said Morgan.

In addition to using the right appliances, for those who burn wood or coal, Morgan says it is important to get an annual chimney inspection from a chimney sweep.

“We recommend that every year you get your chimney inspected and your fireplace inspected just to make sure that the brick and the mortar and whatever else your chimney is made out of is intact and working properly,” said Morgan.

Morgan also adds to just stick to dry firewood in any indoor fireplaces, and to avoid burning trash or other vegetation that could ignite quickly.