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Austin Fire Department reminds residents to be careful with space heaters following fire

The department said the fire started because a space heater was left too close to flammable items.

AUSTIN, Texas — With Central Texas starting to see cooler temperatures the Austin Fire Department (AFD) is reminding area residents to be careful when using space heaters.

The reminder comes after the department responded to a fire early Friday morning that was started by a space heater left too close to flammable items. The fire caused a total of $600,000 in damage at a commercial center located at 5602 Clay Ave, per the department.

The department specified that the fire caused $400,000 in damage to the structure and $200,000 in damage to content.

The fire was confined to one unit, later identified as Suite A. No one was seriously hurt, but one person and one firefighter were treated for minor injuries at the scene, AFD said.

"There's a reason why space heaters are called that... because they need space," the department said in a tweet. "So as temps drop, remember: give those space heaters plenty of space!"

According to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), a nonprofit promoting electrical safety, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the U.S. with more than 65,000 home fires attributed to such equipment.

ESFI provides the following safety tips to keep your home safe when it's cold outside:

  • Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
  • Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you're leaving a room or going to sleep, and don't let pets or children play too close to a space heater.
  • Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
  • Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
  • Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
  • Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
  • Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.


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