LOUISIANA (KLFY) – The Louisiana Fire Marshal’s Office is pleading with people to be aware of fire hazards, as temperatures continue to plunge.
This comes after three fatal fires in Louisiana this week alone.
A woman, 73, was killed in a house fire in New Orleans from a canned heat source. Another woman, 83, was killed in a house fire in Leesville from an electrical malfunction. A disabled man in his 40’s was also killed in a house fire in Ruston.
News 10 spoke with fire officials here in Acadiana about how to keep your family safe.
“It’s devastating anytime somebody dies in a fire, but especially this time of year. Several years ago, about 20 years ago, we lost a family of 5 on Christmas Eve. It was really devastating. They were using their heater to light to the oven, so we just want to make sure that people don’t use a heater to light their oven or if they’re going to use some type of heater, make sure it’s 3 feet away from any type of combustible material,” Scott Fire Chief Chad Sonnier said.
He said cold temperatures and fire tragedies often to go hand-in-hand.
“A lot of people in this area because we’re not used to the cold weather, we’re not equipped so we try to find different ways to make means to stay warm, a lot of them are unapproved. An example would be using your oven as a heater, maybe some type of portable device that doesn’t belong inside, using it inside. So we just want to remind everybody to use it where it’s intended to be used and keep any type of combustible 3 feet away from that heater,” he added.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is also warning people not to plug heating devices into power strips or extension cords. In addition, be mindful of how many Christmas decorations are plugged into one power source.
Chief Sonnier said not following these precautions can very well cause deadly fires.
“It happens, and it happens regularly, especially around here in Acadiana. We’ve had several fatalities as a result of the cold weather and people using the wrong type of heaters or keeping a combustible too close to the heaters. So we want to make sure they’re reminded of that,” he said. “Another thing we want to remind the public is don’t go out and travel if you don’t have to. The roads are going to be icy. You’re going to endanger emergency personnel going to help you whenever you could have just stayed home and not been in a ditch or something.”
He also said make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
“Stay warm, use the proper type of heating equipment, stay bundled up, and hopefully we’ll get through these next couple of days safe,” Sonnier said.
The three fire deaths this week bring the state’s fire fatality count up to 75 this year. In all but a handful of those cases, no working smoke alarms were found.