FULTON, NY – Although fire and ice don’t generally mix well, winter weather brings about the ideal conditions to cause structural fires.
Recently, Oswego County Today has received multiple reports of structure fires throughout the county including a large barn fire at a local farm, an apartment complex fire that left numerous families without homes and a garage fire believed to have been started by a wood stove.
These reportings, along with many others, have left our readers wondering what is going on to cause such a spike in fires throughout the county.
Although every fire is treated on an individual basis and the start of a fire could be any number of things as determined through an investigation after the fire has been controlled, the conditions brought about by the winter season only enhance the ability for a fire to start.
Assistant Fire Chief for the Fulton Fire Department David Eiffe said the increase is standard during this time of year.
“What we are seeing is normal during the winter months as people are turning to alternative heating methods like burning wood or kerosene heaters,” said Eiffe.
Eiffe also noted that there is an increase in calls for carbon monoxide in addition to fires.
“There are a lot of people that are unable to heat their homes, so they turn to alternative heating methods. We see a lot of use of kerosene heaters and people lighting candles, we’ve even seen people using their stove or oven to heat their home,” he said.
Unfortunately, these heating methods prove very dangerous as they can quickly engulf a residence in flames if they catch on to any flammable item.
Assistant Chief Eiffe offers a few tips for people during this season of increase fire response.
“First of all, if a person is looking for ways to heat their house because they are financially unable to do so, I recommend that they look into assistance programs such as HEAP to help them afford to safely heat their home,” he said.
HEAP, short for Home Energy Assistance Program, is an assistance program through Department of Social Services that helps pay the energy bill to heat the home based on the resident’s income. For more information or to find out how to apply for HEAP in Oswego County, click here.
“Second,” Eiffe continued, “if a resident is lighting fires to heat their house, I highly recommend they have their chimneys inspected and keep them clean. We believe it’s best to have them inspected by someone certified, but there are things the home owner can do themselves.”
“And third, if someone is reverting to using heating such as kerosene or electric heaters, we ask that they please do so safely. It’s essential that they allow clearances between heaters and flammable objects, things such as curtains or blankets, anything of the sort,” he finished.
As we have recently seen and continue to approach dangerously cold weather, it is vital for home occupants to be smart and safe with the ways in which they heat their homes to stay warm.
To also see Oswego Fire Department’s tips for winter safety, including ways to prevent winter fires, click here.