Local fire officials are urging the public to become more educated on fire safety, especially this time of year when everyone is trying to stay warm.
Five people, including four young children were killed Wednesday morning in a house fire in Oklahoma City. Fire officials said they believe a space heater started the blaze. The house did not have any working smoke detectors.
Two homes were destroyed by a house fire in Owasso on Christmas Eve after a family started a fire in their chimney.
“We called and texted with our landlord to make sure it was safe to light a fire in the chimney, we’ve only lived here two months,” said one of the renters from the home that burned down, Robert Renner. “He said go ahead, just open the flue and have a Merry Christmas.”
A couple minutes later the Renner’s home was on the ground and their neighbor’s home was also destroyed. No one was hurt.
“It’s a tragedy and I have seen it over and over again,” said Owasso Fire Chief Chris Garrett as he thought about the lives lost Wednesday morning, and the homes lost on Christmas Eve. “It’s heartache for the community and for he responders. That’s why we must educate our community better. We try but we cannot reach everyone it seems.”
Chief Garrett urges everyone to get a working smoke detector.
“If you need it installed, call us and we will install it right away for free!” said Chief Garrett. “Make sure you have your chimney inspected once a year and the flue is cleaned out and clear of any debris. Be sure the fuel is not damp because that can be dangerous. It’s flammable. “
Chief Garrett also recommends not putting ashes in a bag or a plastic container outside just after they have burned. He said to wait 24 hours and then pour them into a metal container outside of your home.
The U.S. Fire Administration reports heating fires account for 36 percent of rural home fires every year.