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Fire officials - Alternative heat sources increase the risk of house fires

November 25, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown Fire Department is concerned that rising heating costs might force people to use alternative heat sources that could increase the risk of house fires.

"We see a potentially dangerous year," said Mike Weller, fire prevention officer for the Hagerstown Fire Department. "I hope people will use common sense ... I've been in one home that had 25 candles lit (to generate heat)."

Weller said improperly used space heaters are a particular threat.

He said residents should understand that space heaters are designed as a supplementary, rather than a primary, source of heat.

When using a space heater, it is important to closely follow the directions and ensure the heater is properly maintained, Weller said.

Space heaters should be operated at least 3 feet away from anything flammable, such as beds, couches and walls, Weller said. In addition, people should stay awake in the general area where a space heater is being used.

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When using a kerosene heater, it is important to fill it with kerosene and not gasoline or diesel fuel. Using the wrong fuel can cause a fire, Weller said.

Residents can get financial assistance to heat their homes from The Salvation Army and the Washington County Community Action Council, Weller said.

ยท To learn more about heating assistance, call the Washington County Community Action Council at 301-797-4161.

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