Cumberland Times-News

January 21, 2013

Play it safe

Threat of house fires increases in cold weather

Cumberland Times-News

— When the weather turns frigid — as it has this week — the danger of residential fires is always heightened.

Three house fires occurred in our region over the weekend. However, only one of the three was occupied.

Winds gusting up to 50 mph played havoc with fire fighters attempting to extinguish a log home fire on state Route 135 near Pysell Cut Road near Deer Park early Sunday morning. No one was injured.

Sunday evening, volunteer fire fighters were called to a vacant house on Moore’s Hollow Road southeast of Cumberland when the home became fully engulfed in flames.

A Roberts Street home in South Cumberland early Monday morning destroyed the structure. This house also was unoccupied.

 Over the next couple of days  temperatures will drop into the single digits and teens. A wind chill advisory for temperatures zero to 10 below is posted until 6 p.m. tonight.

Although only one of our weekend fires occurred when someone was in the building, it is still worth repeating the Maryland state fire marshal’s advice on dealing with cold weather residential fires:

•  Ensure chimneys are cleaned annually or more frequently if used as the primary heating source.

•  Never use a flammable liquid to start a fire. Only use combustible materials like newspaper, kindling or approved fire starting products to safely create a fire in a fireplace or woodstove.

• Use properly sized fireplace screens or enclosures.

• When disposing of cooled ashes, do not use paper or plastic containers to remove them, instead use a metal container. Ashes will insulate hot embers long after the fire is considered out.

•  Make sure fuel burning stoves and heaters are installed according to local fire codes and manufacturer's instructions.

• Have your furnace inspected and serviced annually.

It is never too late to check chimneys or furnaces. What you find may well save your life — or someone else’s.