SFD Releases Cause of Fatal Fire on Longfellow; Offers Heating Safety Tips

Brian Schaeffer, Assistant Chief, 509.625.7002

Monday, November 24, 2014 at 4:28 p.m.

Spokane Fire Department investigators have determined the cause of a residential fire that claimed the life of a 97-year-old Spokane woman. The fire, reported on the morning of October 28, in the 1200 block of E. Longfellow Avenue, was caused by a suitcase that caught fire due to its close proximity to a heater. The chance of surviving this fire was significantly reduced because there were no working smoke detectors in the household. Nationally, two out of every three fire deaths occurs in households not protected by smoke detectors.

Heating equipment is the leading cause of residential fire in the winter months. Keep these important tips in mind to stay safe and warm this winter:

  • Any type of combustible material – for example, curtains, upholstery, bedspreads, and stuffed animals – should be kept at least 12 inches away from baseboard heaters.
  • When using space heaters:
    • Do not plug the heater into an extension cord or power strip
    • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the heater
    • Turn heaters completely off when going to sleep or leaving your home
  • Clean your chimney and remove flammable creosote deposits. Inspect your chimney for cracks or blockages. This can help prevent rooftop fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Use seasoned or dried firewood to reduce creosote buildup in your chimney.
  • The Spokane Fire Department has a limited number of smoke detectors to install in the homes of persons with limited income or individuals who are physically unable to install detectors. Persons living within the fire jurisdiction of the City of Spokane Fire Department may call 509.625.7049 to be added to the smoke detector installation program.
  • For additional information on heater safety, you can visit SpokaneFire.org.