A fire broke out Thursday afternoon at a home on Laura Street in Chattanooga. Despite the unusually mild January day, it was a space heater that caused the fire.
"Portable space heaters, heating appliances, all of those together usually account for the second-leading cause of all fires in homes," says Bruce Garner, Spokesperson for the Chattanooga Fire Department.
Once firefighters had the fire under control, they immediately knew how it started.
"It was obvious that the heater was right up against the wall, and it was on, and with each hour it got hotter and hotter and eventually just burst into flames," adds Garner.
The fire started in the bedroom. Garner says the curtains likely caught on fire next, then the flames spread up to the attic.
"The firefighters attacked it very quickly with hand-held hose lines and contained the fire pretty quickly to just the bedroom and the attic," explains Garner.
He says the man who lives in the house was there when the fire started, but he wasn't hurt. Most of the damage, estimated at $10,000, was inside the home. The man was fortunate. Space heater fires can spread very quickly.
"Sometimes they don't only cause damage, they cause injuries and fatalities," adds Garner.
He says remember one simple rule of safety when using space heaters.
"Please use the three-foot rule," says Garner. "That is, keep anything that will burn at least three feet from these heaters."
This includes walls and windows because drapes and blinds can catch fire. Don't put the heater too close to your bed where over-hanging sheets can catch fire. Also choose a heater that's appropriate for home use.
"You wouldn't want to pull in the big kerosene type blow heater that is meant for a warehouse," says Garner.
He also says for the past two months there's been a "steady stream" of cases like this one. With a lot more winter ahead of us, Garner doesn't want you and your family to become statistics.
"We still have some more cold weather to go," adds Garner. "I think we need to be careful about that."