Earlier today (Wednesday, October 30), Temple firefighters were called to a home at which a space heater caused a fire, displacing three people.

Thankfully no injuries were reported. The fire was reported less than two hours after Temple Fire and Rescue issued a news release urging to citizens to check furnaces, fireplaces, and space heaters to ensure they're in safe working order.

"During the initial blast of winter weather each year, first responders in the City of Temple see an uptick in home heating-related calls," Chief Mitch Randles wrote. Sadly, that came true later in the morning.

According to Randles, the top three types of calls first responders receive as people start cranking up the heat are:

  • Burning smells related to furnaces/heaters being turned on for the first time
  • Smoke filling homes due to chimney flues not being properly opened or cleaned before use
  • Fires started by floor furnaces covered by rugs or other materials, or by space heaters being turned on and left unattended

Randles offered these tips to ensure your family's safety as temperatures continue to plunge here in Central Texas:

  • Get your HVAC system and fireplace flues cleaned and inspected.
  • Remove any combustible materials away from heat-producing appliances such as furnaces or space heaters.
  • Do not use space heaters as a primary heating source. If you are using a space heater, plug it into an outlet directly. Do not use an extension cord of any size.
  • If you have a gas furnace or gas appliances, make certain you have a functional carbon monoxide detector in your home.
  • If you have frozen pipes, do not use a torch or other open flame to try and thaw them.
  • Turn off your lawn sprinkler systems during freezing weather.
    Do not put ashes from fireplaces in plastic or combustible containers.

By the way, that burning smell you notice when you turn on the heater for the first time in a while is usually caused by dust in your vents or air filter.

If you don't have the vents cleaned or don't change the filter regularly, the smell can be particularly strong, but should eventually fade. If it doesn't, you could have a very serious problem and you need to contact a heating and air service or your landlord if you rent.

Be safe while keeping warm, Central Texas.

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