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Firefighters reveal what to look for on your space heater to insure you stay safe

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 1/07 10:47 pm Published: 1/07 10:44 pm

There have been at least eight space heater fires in Tulsa since the first of the year, including four in which lives were lost.

FOX23 went to Pine and North Union avenues to talk with firefighters who are doing courtesy smoke detector tests to help prevent and lower the risk of fires in the area.

A fire broke out on Sunday  and crews had to actually knock a hole in the wall just to try to get the man out. Unfortunately, it was too late.

Philip Merriman lives just a few houses down from the elderly man who died in a house fire last Sunday.

Merriman tells FOX23, "It hits home when it's that close. I mean, he's not even 300 feet from me."

Firefighters say the man had several space heaters going when his home caught fire. And we've learned that several were within 6 inches of items inside his house.

FOX23 got an inside look at the home and all the damage.

We found burnt pictures and several charred space heaters.

The victim of the house fire was one of two people killed in fires in just a matter of three days.

That's why crews decided to do whatever they could to make sure people don't continue to become victims. Late Tuesday afternoon firefighters canvassed the neighborhoods, checking people's smoke detectors and batteries.

We spoke with Tulsa Fire Capt. Stan May.

"It looks like it's going to be a long winter and we're going to have another cold snap here before this is all over, and we need to take this little break that we've got and check over your equipment. Make sure your heaters and fire places are in order," May said.

Like many others, Merriman's smoke detector wasn't working.

"Luckily I had one but the battery went down on me awhile back and I didn't replace it yet, but I knew I should because I've got heaters going, and fireplace and all that," Merriman said.

Merriman says he's so grateful that the firefighters took the time to make sure he was OK.

"I would like to thank the firefighters that came over here and checked on me. It just warmed my heart."

FOX23 investigated some of the biggest issues that firefighters are seeing with space heaters right now.

Crews say it's important that the public is educated about smoke detectors and space heaters.

They're seeing a lot of people misuse space heaters and that's already caused eight fires in seven days this year.

"We prefer that they use the heater that came with their house, a natural floor unit or the central heating and air," said May.

But if you can't, firefighters say make sure your space heater is up to date.

What they're seeing a lot of right now is space heaters falling over, children or pets knocking them down, or a blanket getting tossed near one.

Jack Shade was home when fire crews came by to check on his smoke detector on Tuesday.

It was his neighbor who died in a fire from a space heater on Sunday.

"I had one years ago, and it went out and I haven't had another one since," said Shade.

Stay with FOX23 for the latest information on how to stay safe during the winter and what to do if you are in a house fire.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Gregg777 - 1/8/2014 10:39 AM
1 Vote
Ive been very pleased with switching to channel 6 news online as their articles are written with educated writers and most are spell checked and grammar checked before publishing. On most of their stories there are sometimes up to 100 comments letting me know that they are the leading station for online news. And there isnt any of this BS captcha crap either. You post quickly if you have a FB account. I encourage everyone to give Channel 6 a week trial and you'll see the difference. Now lets see how long FOX lets this comment stay up, or if theyre ok with their viewers checking out the competition. Oh and what are we looking for on our space heaters to insure we're safe?

Mayor Maynot - 1/8/2014 8:02 AM
0 Votes
I showed my landlord he said please do not use that. I'm afraid you'll burn down my house. I'm lucky the natural gas seems to have it covered.
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