Firefighters kept busy with preventable fires

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Firefighters in Salt Lake City had their hands full Tuesday morning with two house fires they say could have been prevented. One fire was caused by an overloaded extension cord that shorted out, the other caused by the improper use of a space heater.

As we head into the colder weather, firefighters ask that you check a few things around the house. They want you to check

Your furnace, and spaces heaters -- make sure they're working properly;- Your outlets and extension cords--make sure they're not overloaded;

  • Your smoke detectors--now is the time to replace your batteries.

The two fires on Tuesday caused a lot of damage that firefighters say could have been prevented by following those few simple steps. The first fire started around 1:00 a.m. at a home near 500 South and 900 West. Firefighters say an overloaded extension cord shorted out, catching some nearby books and paper on fire. The fire climbed into the attic of the home, forcing the family to evacuate and eventually to be displaced.

Capt. Rick Black, with the Salt Lake City Fire Department, said, "We were concerned because we had an exposure problem. Crews did a real nice job of getting in very quickly, contain the fire and extinguish it, and doing a search of the house."

When crews searched the home, they found that the family's pets were left inside. Those pets -- three cats and a dog -- died as a result of smoke inhalation.

Overall, firefighters say the fire caused about $50,000 in damage. The family is now being assisted by the Red Cross.

The second fire happened a few hours later at a home near 300 East and 900 South. This fire was caused by a space heater left on in the basement overnight. Investigators say some nearby clothing caught fire. Flames spread throughout the house causing about $80,000 in damage.

Salt Lake City Fire Department Capt. Michael Harp said, "When you use a space heater, keep it is on a level surface, away from combustibles; make sure the controls are operable, and it's in good condition. Make sure that if you use an extension cord it fits that appliance. There are a lot of things you can do to prevent this type of thing from happening."

Six people were displaced because of this second fire. The Red Cross is helping them as well.

Firefighters suggest that if you need to use an extra heating source at night, use an electric blanket, not a space heater.


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