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Experts warn about dangers of fire in colder weather

Updated: Thursday, October 24 2013, 04:56 AM CDT
Reported by: Ewa Roman 

MILLERSVILLE -- Now that the temps are dropping, many people are turning on their furnaces and fireplaces, but if you haven't gotten them inspected first, that could start a fire inside your home.

Seven people died in a fire in Lancaster County back in July. The expert CBS 21 interviewed says there were no working smoke detectors in that house.

There's no excuse for not having them installed and many fire departments give them away and install them for free.

Then there are fire walls. A fire wall is made of concrete blocks that go up in between two properties and experts say true fire walls actually extend out through the roof to keep a fire from spreading.

Duane Hagelgans, a professor at Millersville University and an emergency management expert, says builders are supposed to install fire walls in new homes or apartments, but just how many they need to put there depends on the town's codes and each occupancy is different.

"Just because of the cost of the building trades. The reality of it is it would be nice to have it between every single building and some places, they are, but usually you'll see it between, it'll be a couple, with the theory that instead of losing 12 houses in a row, you might lose two or four," Hagelgans said.

Hagelgans says there are ways to keep a fire from starting, especially when the temps drops: have the furnace or chimney inspected before you turn it on, don't store things near furnace, and never use extension cord with space heaters.

"You have an old space heater that doesn't have the tip-over protection, you have a dog and they tip over the space heater and it lands in a pile of laundry and before you know it, you have a fire," Hagelgans said.

And if you clean out your fireplace, Hagelgans says to put the ashes in a metal container with a lid.

"I guarantee you, somewhere in the next month we'll have a fire where somebody cleaned out their fireplace and stove and they put whatever was in there in a paper bag or a cardboard box and they'll put it on their back deck and they'll catch their house on fire, I guarantee it," Hagelgans said.

Aside from smoke detectors, experts say you should also have carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

Experts warn about dangers of fire in colder weather

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