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House fire causes warning for kerosene heaters

By Megan Brantley, mbrantley@wcyb.com
Published On: Nov 29 2012 04:54:12 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 28 2012 04:41:07 PM CST

A house fire in Johnson City sent three to the hospital and officials believe it was from a kerosene heater.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

A house fire in Johnson City sent three to the hospital and officials believe it was from a kerosene heater.

We learned the Johnson City Fire Department received a call around 5:30 Wednesday morning and when they got there, we are told they found smoke coming from the home.

Assistant Fire Marshall Jonathan Fulmer said the fire was mostly contained in the hallway and they found a heater that had tipped over. "Space heaters, kerosene heaters are very popular for people who have homes that don't have central heat and air," said Fulmer.

Fulmer said during this time of year is the busiest with calls about heaters. "Obviously with the cold weather, people are going to be pulling these heaters out and so we are going to get more frequent calls where people just don't know what they need to do to be safe while using these haters," said Fulmer.

He said if they are not used correctly, it could cause a fire in the home.

However, he said there are ways to protect your family. One way to do that is by turning the unit off before fueling up. "If you can wait five minutes, it's a good number. Make sure it cools down; take it outside to refuel it. It’s the best place because it's ventilated," said Fulmer.

In addition, you should only use kerosene, never gasoline. "It will cause there to be a fire. You can get burned by it really quick. You just don't want to mix the fuels like that, it's always dangerous," said Fulmer.    

He says you should always keep a three-foot barrier around the heater, away from items or combustibles. “Also in that zone, you want to call it a kid-free zone, so they don't get near to touch it or knock it over," said Fulmer.

We discovered some heater manufacturers have added a new anti-tip feature that will help if it is to happen. "If it does have something knock into them, it will cut off," said Dustin West, Assistant Store Manager at Lowes.

Electric and infrared heaters are the safer option if you are in the market because they do not require fuel and do not give off carbon monoxide.