Fire Departments Warn Of Space Heater Dangers

Paul Gutierrez

BELLEVUE (KPTM) - If you're using space heaters to keep warm this Winter, listen up. Fire safety officers are warning tonight about the dangers of improperly using the device.

"People see space heaters as a cost-effective way to heat their home. That's true as long as they're used safely," said Brian Koontz, a public safety officer in Bellevue.

A common mistake, Koontz says, is when people snuggle up next to the device.

"Somehow they might move and the blanket ends up over the space heater."

The Bellevue Fire Department told FOX 42 News Thursday it may take an hour for a space heater to ignite something on fire, but in a matter of only seconds that fire could spread out of control.

"It'll double and double and double," said Koontz. "That's when it gets very bad, then you'll end up with smoke."

It's a dangerous situation that could even turn into a tragedy. Last February, two people were killed when a mobile home fire in Bellevue went up in flames followed by the deaths of two more people at Omaha's Maplewood Estates in December. In both cases, firefighters blame space heaters.

"That's why our department as well as all the other fire departments are so big on fire prevention. We'd love to not have any fires at all," sad Koontz.

Other space heater safety tips include keeping the devices at least three feet away from anything that can burn, not using a space heater with a damaged cord and not placing a space heater on furniture or on anything damp or wet.

For a complete list of safety tips, check out the following link: