Sudden drop in temperatures increase heater hazards

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DENISON, TX-We're about to see some unseasonably cold weather with temperatures dropping down to the 30's Wednesday morning. Fire officials warn you to be extra careful before you fire up the heater or the fireplace.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters and fireplaces cause 15-percent of about 57,000 structure fires in the U.S. a year. And Denison fire officials said, with the temperature changes this spring, they've responded to several heater-related fires in the past few weeks.

Mindy Brooks is not looking forward to the cold blast expected to sweep through Texoma Tuesday night.

"We'll have to turn the heaters back on, which we're tired of doing that too so, I guess bundle the kids back up and make sure they have their warm clothes. Good thing we haven't put em up yet," she said.

"Obviously when the cold front comes in, everybody's gonna come run for heat. The danger's always gonna be there."

So before you turn on your heater or light up the fireplace, Denison Assistant Fire Chief Bill Ray said it's important to do some checks.

"The heater's been running all winter long. We certainly need to check for carbon monoxide and make sure those fireplaces those things get cleaned out. Everything you can do for winter startup, you want to redo before turning your stuff back on," he said.

With temperatures dropping several times over the past few weeks, he said firefighters have responded to several heater-related fires, like this one on Texas street in Denison.

"We can see a surge with this cold front with people not paying attention to their heating equipment, that's how accidents happen when someone's not paying attention," he said.

Ray said it's also important to keep flammable materials at a distance from any heating equipment.

"Heaters are around because we don't need them anymore where they're at. And now that it's gotten cold again or it gets cold again, we turn them back on without thinking about the position or how close they are to something that could catch on fire," he said.

Assistant Chief Ray said it's best to keep objects at least 6-feet away from heaters and the fire place. If you have an electric heater, Ray said it's important to check the circuits to make sure it can still handle the electricity.