Heat lamps cause fires and close calls

Heat lamps in use during this month’s cold temperatures were the cause of two structure fires in Coweta County. Assistant Fire Chief and Fire Marshal Jimmy Gantt urged residents to be aware the dangers associated with using the lamps for supplemental heating.

Gantt said that during the month firefighters responded to two structure fires caused by heat lamps. Though residents were unharmed, Gantt said that in one of the cases the family dog perished in the fire.

 Gantt said one of the fires occurred in the early morning hours of Dec. 16 when an outbuilding on Earl North Road was destroyed by fire. The investigation determined that heat lamps to close to combustible materials were the cause of this fire. This fire had a more tragic outcome when firefighters discovered the remains of a deceased dog in the outbuilding, Gantt said.

In an earlier fire on Dec. 9 a working smoke detector saved the life of William Harbuck when his Quig Youngs Road home caught fire, said Gantt. Harbuck told firefighters that the smoke detector saved his life when it woke him and he was able to escape the fire without injuries, Gantt said.

“My investigation determined that a heat lamp in a dog house under the rear deck of the home was the cause of the fire,” said Gantt. “The heat lamp ignited combustible material in the dog house. The resulting fire ignited the rear deck and traveled up the outside of the house to the vinyl soffit and then spread into the attic of the house. Had it not been for working smoke detectors this fire would have had a very tragic outcome.”

Gantt said citizens should be aware of the dangers of using heat lamps too close to combustible materials.

“You need to read, understand and follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions when using heat lamps or any other type of heating appliance. It is safer to bring pets inside during cold weather than to rely on a heat lamp or other portable heating devices to keep them warm outside,” Gantt advised.

Gantt also noted that everyone needs to make sure they have working smoke detectors in their home and to have a home fire escape plan with a meeting place and to practice their home escape plan with all family members. Also if you have gas appliances, a wood burning stove or fireplace a carbon monoxide detector is recommended, Gantt added.