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Fire Deaths in Washington State Linked to Home Heating Equipment

A recent  press release by the Office of the State Fire Marshal reminds to be careful when using indoor space heaters during these cold winter months.  Please stay warm — safely!!

Four people have been killed in two recent home fires caused by portable electric space heaters. “The use of space heaters increases during the colder winter months, we want residents to stay warm, but we also want them to be safe,” say Fire Marshal Chuck Duffy. Duffy urges caution and asks that residences using space heaters practice safe heating behaviors, as this is the peak time for home heating fires.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office offers the following safety tips:

  • Ensure that the heater is placed on a stable, level surface, and located where it will not be knocked over.
  • Never power the heater with an extension cord or power strip.
  • Keep combustible material such as beds, sofas, curtains, papers, and clothes at least 3 feet from the front, sides, and rear of the heater.
  • Be sure the heater plug fits tightly into the wall outlet. If not, do not use the outlet to power the heater.
  • Never operate a heater you suspect is damaged. Before use, inspect the heater, cord, and plug for damage. Follow all operation and maintenance instructions.
  • Never leave the heater operating while unattended, or while you are sleeping.
  • During use, check frequently to determine if the heater plug or cord, wall outlet, or faceplate is HOT!
  • If the plug, outlet, or faceplate is hot, discontinue use of the heater, and have a qualified electrician check and/or replace the plug or faulty wall outlet(s).
  • If the cord is hot, disconnect the heater, and have it inspected/repaired by an authorized repair person.
  • Lastly, make sure you always have working smoke alarms installed in your hom

To learn more about winter fire safety visit the U.S. Fire Administration website at:


The Office of the State Fire Marshal is a Bureau of the Washington State Patrol, providing fire and life safety services to the citizens of Washington State including inspections of state licensed facilities, plan review of school construction projects, licensing of fire sprinkler contractors and pyrotechnic operators, training Washington States firefighters, and collecting emergency response data.



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