Winter risky time for fires

ESCANABA TOWNSHIP – ‘Tis the season for cold temperatures as well as holiday feasts and decorations – all which can pose hazards for fires if precautions are not followed.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration website, people are at the greatest risk for fires in the winter season because they cook holiday meals, display decorations, and may use unsafe heat sources.

Escanaba Township Fire Chief Ken Brunette says the most common fires which occur in the township during the wintertime are chimney fires.

“Typically, we have some fires because of wood stoves. The creosote builds up and can start a chimney fire if they’re not properly cleaned,” said Brunette, expecting possible fire emergencies as the mercury drops.

Another common fire risk during the winter, especially with the arrival of the holiday season, are candles, noted the fire chief.

Brunette recommends placing candles in a safe area, in a fire-proof container away from drapes, papers and other flammables.

Christmas trees and other holiday decorations can also pose fire hazards in both homes and businesses.

“In training videos, I’ve seen Christmas trees go up in flames within eight to 10 seconds,” said Brunette, reminding people to check decorative electrical lights for any problems.

Other common sense precautions include watering the tree and not overloading electrical sockets.

“It’s also important to make sure smoke alarms are working,” Brunette added.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) website also recommends cooking with care, using space heaters safely, and being aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide, especially during the colder months.

Each year, more than 900 people die in winter home fires in the United States, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires during the winter with 5 to 8 p.m. being the most common time home fires occur.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,