Early morning house fire extinguished by tenant

Photos Courtesy the Red Lodge Fire Rescue

All that is left of the space heater after consumed by the fire.

The Red Lodge Fire Rescue received a report of a house fire that had occurred at 3 a.m. last Sunday near the Pollard Hotel. The tenant did not call 911 and was able to extinguish the flames themselves. According to the Fire Department the tenant believes the fire was started by a space heater in the kitchen. 

Red Lodge Fire personnel investigated the scene and found significant damage. 

“The fire burned long enough to create black staining half way down the walls,” said Captain Jon Trapp.   “Smoke from structure fires is extremely toxic and should be avoided at all costs.”

Fire Chief Tom Kuntz added that there are some lessons to be learnt from this incident.

“This fire could have been significantly worse and there are some important lessons to pass along.  If you discover a fire in your home, call 911 immediately, even if you think you can extinguish the flames yourself,” said Kuntz.

According to the Fire Department, every second is critical in these situations as a fire can double in size every minute, and it is essential that 911 is called as soon as possible. 

The Fire Department recommends that homeowners or tenants carry out monthly tests on any smoke alarms to ensure they are operational. They even suggest purchasing additional smoke detectors if needed.  In addition to this, carbon monoxide detectors should also be considered. 

Fire Rescue have issued some space heater safety tips:

· All heaters should be Underwriters Listed (UL) approved.
·  Heaters should have a thermostat to automatically shut down the unit when the desired temperature is achieved.
· Heaters should have a tip over automatic shut down feature.
· Keep all space heaters at least 3 feet away from household combustibles.
·  Do not use extension cords with space heaters unless absolutely necessary.
· Inspect the heater’s cord periodically to look for frayed wire or damaged insulation. Do not use a space heater with a damaged cord.
· Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced by a qualified technician. This could be the sign of a potential home wiring issue.
· Heaters should be placed on a flat, level surface. Do not place heaters on furniture since they may fall and become damaged or break parts in the heater.
· Unless the heater is designed for use outdoors or in bathrooms, do not use in damp, wet areas.

Please contact Red Lodge Fire Rescue at 446-2320 with any questions regarding smoke detectors, space heaters and fire safety.