We called Branden Jackman, public information officer for the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, for a story we compiled Friday about whether the cold weather had contributed to any fires or injuries so far. Jackman said that, amazingly enough, there had not been any such instances.
On Monday, Jackman said that the question must have been a jinx, because since then Paint Creek firefighters had responded to at least four fires, all related to the cold in that people were using wood-burning stoves or chimneys, or employing space heaters that led to fires.
A South Salem home that is considered a total loss became engulfed due to a wood-burning stove accident, firefighters believe. The Rocky Fork Lake Activity Center was filled with smoke due to a malfunctioning furnace. Other fires were blamed on faulty chimneys.
Jackman offered a reminder that this time of year, when temperatures can turn frigid as they did last week and people turn to alternative heat sources such as wood and space heaters, accidents often happen. He offered a few safety tips, such as making sure to have chimneys inspected regularly, and provide at least 36-inches of clearance for space heaters. Never leave wood burners, chimneys or space heaters operating when no one is in the house to watch them, he warned.
As Jackman said, firefighters are the only profession in the world where everyone would prefer that they not have to do their job. We encourage local residents to remember to follow some basic, commonsense safety tips so fires can be prevented.