A late-night fire in Laramie on Wednesday, December 27, 2023, demonstrated the risks of improperly used space heaters in homes. In a press release issued yesterday, the City of Laramie Fire Department reported the successful control of a house fire caused by a portable space heater.

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The press release indicated the response was a coordinated effort between the Laramie Fire Department, the Laramie Police Department, Black Hills Energy, Rocky Mountain Power, Emergency Management Agency (EMA), Red Cross, and the City of Laramie Water Department.

"At 23:45, the Albany County Dispatch Center received a call reporting a house on fire. The Emergency Dispatch Operators promptly dispatched E3, E7, L5, MS 144, and U46 with a total of 12 firefighters to the scene. The first arriving Engine (E-3) was on-site within 6 minutes of the call and discovered a trailer home engulfed in flames, venting out of the back bedroom window and into nearby trees."

The fire required the evacuation of the trailer occupants, aided by the LPD. Between the two fire engines on the scene, the fire was quickly controlled within a swift nine-minute effort. The Laramie Fire Department acknowledged the role the LPD played in locating and evacuating the residents of the trailer. The press release reports that the resident sustained burns during the incident and was transported to Invinson Memorial Hospital for medical attention.

Laramie Fire Department urges residents to properly use their auxiliary heaters by keeping all combustible materials at a safe distance from any heater in use.

Tips to Safely Using Space Heaters in Your Home:

  • Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas - set a reminder to test the smoke alarms once a month. Tip: Many insurance companies offer discounts for monitored smoke alarms as part of security systems.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended! Avoid running it while sleeping, and don't let pets or kids play around the heater.
  • Never plug a space heater into an extension cord. Always plug them directly into the wall outlet. Extension cords and power strips can overheat if a space heater is plugged into them.
  • "Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing, or thaw pipes."
  • Keep all space heaters at least three feet away from anything flammable, like paper, toys, clothes, and rugs
  • Place space heaters away from high-traffic areas like doorways or hallways.
  • Use a space heater with safety features like Tip-Over Protection, which shuts the unit off if tipped over, and overheating protection, which prevents the unit from running too hot.
  • "Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire."

Source: Electrical Safety Foundation / Progressive Insurance

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