According to a press release from the Eureka Fire department, dated Nov. 5, 2011:
This last weekend the Eureka Fire Department and Humboldt Fire District #1 responded to two fires caused by combustible materials placed on top of or too close to heaters. The Eureka Fire Department and Humboldt Fire District #1 historically responds to several heater related fires at this time of year.
Often occupants think a furnace has been turned off because they have adjusted the thermostat to the lowest setting. This does not turn the furnace off; rather the furnace is set to the lowest temperature setting. When the temperature falls below the lowest setting on the thermostat the heater will still turn on. Combustibles placed on or near the heater can ignite and start a fire. While combustible materials stored too close to all types of heaters are a fire hazard, historically in Eureka this has been a recurring problem with floor heaters. During the warmer weather rugs or other combustible materials may be placed on top of or next to a floor heater. When the temperature falls and the heaters turn on these materials ignite and cause a fire in the building.
It was fortunate that both of these fires started early in the evening and were noticed. No one was injured and early notification and arrival of the Fire Department limited the damage. Other floor fire caused heater fires have resulted in major damage to the homes.
Here are some safety tips for all types of heaters:
- Do not place floor coverings, clothing, or furniture over floor furnaces or in front of wall heaters.
- Move combustibles away from all types of heaters including floor, wall heaters and in forced air heater closets.
- Have your furnace cleaned and serviced to insure safe and efficient operation.
- Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace or heater; if the wall is hot to the touch or discolored, stop using it and have the appliance checked by a qualified technician.
- If you heat with wood, move combustibles at least 36” away from the stove or fireplace. This applies to furniture as well.
- Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home or on a wooden deck. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house or other buildings.
- Have your stove pipe, chimney, or flue cleaned and inspected prior to use.
Photos showing the fire damage resulting from heater caused fires: