Firefighters warn to check wall-heating units as temps drop

BRISTOL, Tenn. - A word of warning from firefighters, while it's sunny and warm outside during the day, it can get cool at night. That's exactly why it's important to check your wall-heating units.

News 5 learned heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths and a problem firefighters see far too often.

Sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and windows are still open. It's a tricky time of year, but it's the cool temperatures at night that's cause for concern all because of wall-heating units. "A lot of times you'll get combustibles blankets, clothing, that type of thing, pushed too close to them and when those heaters kick-on they can cause a fire," said Dwayne Honaker, Battalion Chief with the Bristol Tennessee Fire Department.

A story all too familiar for Ann-Marie Shores, that happened years ago in her son's bedroom, "There was a spark in the wires and the back of his wooden dresser caught on fire because it turned on."

News 5 checked with both Bristol Tennessee and Virginia Firefighters. In 2011 in Bristol Tennessee there were two house fires caused by home heating units. In Bristol Virginia a fire on Cumberland Street in 2010 was deadly and it's a wall-heater to blame.

That's why firefighters suggest moving everything away from wall or space-heaters at least three feet and inspecting them before it gets colder out. "We recommend wall-heaters and things of that nature, you vacuum them out or clean the dust out of them," added Battalion Chief Honaker.

While those wall-heaters are still inside Shore's home, she takes every precaution to make sure another fire doesn't happen. "You can't do anything with them except cut it off at the breaker box," she said.

According to the National Fire Protection Association about 18% of all home fires in 2009 were caused by heating equipment. Also, firefighters say it's important to make sure you have working smoke detectors.

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