Firefighters see jump in house fires as temps drop

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – As temperatures drop, Horry County Fire Rescue sees a jump in calls for smoke and fires in houses. They say preventative housekeeping is the best way to keep your house standing.

On Friday, crews with Horry County Fire Rescue responded to a call on Hwy 90 near Brightwater Drive. When they got there flames were shooting through the attic of the two story house, according to those on scene. The homeowner told firefighters he had a fire burning in the fire place that night.

Horry County Fire Rescue's investigation determined that Friday night's fire was started in the chimney.

Horry County Fire Rescue says there are things you need to keep in mind while heating your house.

"A lot of it is people not following manufacturer's recommendations as far as fueling kerosene heating and alternative heating sources," explains Battalion Chief Kenny Todd with Horry County Fire Rescue.

Alternative heating includes space heaters, which can easily be knocked over.

"The thing to keep in mind is, space heaters and kerosene heaters have been out for years. Some of the newer ones have safety features such as tip over functions where if they're bumped they'll automatically shut off," says Todd.

However, he warns, some of the older ones do not have that safety feature.

Firefighters also stress you need to get your chimney cleaned every year.

"Just to make sure everything is good with the chimney and that gases can't get out and into the house, which can start a fire," explains Todd.

Experts with Full Steam Ahead Fire & Water Restoration agree. They add that it is also what you burn in the fire place that can make a difference.

"You shouldn't burn trash or green wood because it can build up resulting in a chimney fire," warns Steve Kahn, Co-Owner of Full Speed Ahead Fire & Water Restoration.

Firefighters say the biggest concern is most people crank up the heat during nighttime, while everyone is sleeping and no one is monitoring the heater.

"No one would know anything about it until it gets big enough for the smoke alarm to go off," warns Battalion Chief Todd.

Experts say this is why checking your smoke alarm is so important.

"Even if you go to push that button and it works, it is recommended that you change that battery every year," explains Kahn.

While checking your smoke detector, Full Steam Ahead says it is also a good time to talk to your kids about a fire-safety plan.

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