Fire officials warning of hazards from using space heaters, wood or pellet stoves

As we start to see these cold temperatures, you may see people putting on their hats and gloves, and also plugging in those space heaters at home.
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 6:17 PM EST
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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Our coverage of the first snowfall and first stretch of frigid temperatures turns to concerns about alternative ways people may try to heat their homes.

As we start to see these cold temperatures, you may see people putting on their hats and gloves, and also plugging in those space heaters at home. However, firefighters are reminding people that those heaters do come with a risk.

Recently, western Mass. has seen a number of house fires seemingly on the rise.

On Grover Street In Springfield Monday night, 16 people were displaced from their homes after a fire. There was another fire in Westfield that night, where the homeowner was taken to the hospital. Last week, another broke out on Brookline Avenue in Holyoke after a steam boiler unit caught fire.

As we head into the winter months with colder temperatures, people may start to turn to unique ways of heating their homes, especially with the price of oil being so high.

However, those options come with risks. In 2021, 1,256 fires were caused by residential heating methods.

Western Mass News spoke to Lt. Katie Collins-Kalbaugh with the Chicopee Fire Department. She wants to raise awareness about these risks as we head into winter.

She is reminding homeowners to never plug a space heater in a power strip or extension cord and to keep them three feet away from anything that can burn.

“Space heaters are not designed to be the primary heating source for the space, so having a working heat source and using space heaters to supplement is what we ask people to do,” Lt. Collins-Kalbaugh said.

It is also important to clean your chimneys since you may be using your fireplace a little more.

43% of all house fires in 2021 were started that way, either with a fireplace or a wood or pellet stove.

“Have a licensed professional come out and clean and inspect the chimney to get rid of any creosote buildup, to inspect for loose mortar between the bricks,” Lt. Collins-Kalbaugh told us.

Firefighters also said that this is a crucial time to get your smoke detectors checked to make sure they are working.