Chattanooga firefighters were called to a house on 4th Avenue Thursday afternoon for a fire that appears to have been started by a wall heater.

Heavy smoke was showing when the first fighters arrived about 4:00pm. The fire was limited to the home's rear bedroom and was extinguished within five minutes, according to CFD spokesman Bruce Garner.

The rest of the house suffered some smoke and water damage, but no injuries were reported. 

CFD Captain Schroyer said the person who lived there was not home at the time of the fire.

The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental. The dollar loss was estimated at $8,000. 

With the first taste of fall-like temperatures expected this weekend, Marshal Beau Matlock reminds residents to be careful with their heaters. "Every year at the start of cold weather, we see an increase in fires caused by heaters," said Matlock. "Have your heating appliances checked by a qualified technician, and please remember to keep anything that will burn at least three feet from heating appliances such as space heaters and wall heaters." Matlock added that residents should make sure that furniture hasn't been moved during the summer in front of wall heaters. "Many of these heaters don't have on/off switches," said Matlock. "All they have are thermostats with a range of low to high. If the temperature drops low enough in the house, the heater will turn on, whether you know it or not."

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. 

Simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening, such as:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.