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How to prevent house fires during cold weather days

Published: Nov. 7, 2021 at 11:25 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Fultondale fire is still investigating the cause of the Halloween home explosion, but crews think it may have been a gas leak after witnesses smelled it in the area.

“We had no idea it was about to explode,” Fultondale Fire Chief Justin McKenzie said. “When the initial units got there to check it out, they just saw a fire inside the window and then the smell of gas, but they weren’t sure where the gas was coming from.”

That fire is still being investigated, but Chief Justin McKenzie said there are things you can do to make sure a similar explosion or fire doesn’t happen to you.

Step one is to make sure your HVAC system is clean.

“Sometimes you can tell from the outside if you have a lot of dust in it,” McKenzie said. “You are not changing your filter regularly, that is kind of a sign. Or, when you turn your heat on and you start smelling something burning, go ahead and immediately turn it off because that can tell you there could be stuff in the vents.”

McKenzie recommends getting it professionally cleaned so you aren’t starting an accidental fire.

He said step two is to be mindful of your outlets.

“Not to plug in multiple heating appliances to the same outlet,” McKenzie said. “That can overload the system and cause the outlet or those appliances to catch on fire.”

Another fire starter can be space heaters. McKenzie said it’s best not to use them at all, but if you do, there are steps you can take.

“At least keep them away from things that can burn,” he said. “Clothing, paper products, your desk, things like that. Keep them in a safe area at least three feet away from other things.”

Making sure your smoke detector is working is another line of defense.

“That is one thing, when you are asleep, and carbon monoxide comes from fires, it can kill you before you even realize there is a fire,” McKenzie said. “Keep a fire extinguisher in the house. All those things can help you prevent fires.”

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