String of fires on the Iron Range prompts fire safety advice

By KBJR News 1

January 2, 2014 Updated Jan 2, 2014 at 8:35 PM CDT

Hibbing, MN (NNCNOW.COM)

Multiple recent fires, in subzero temperatures on the iron range, have led officials to hand down some fire safety advice to the community.

Officials say winter fires are more common as people seek to heat their homes during extreme cold snaps like we're having. However they say many of these tragedies could be avoided if people use their heating equipment properly.

"One of our largest structure fires was right around this time last year. It was a half a million dollar loss and it was a result of improperly using power strips, and putting electric heaters, and too many things on electrical circuits that aren't designed for it...You're using a torpedo heater to thaw your vehicle cause it won't start. We want to use common sense we want to keep things that are combustible away from things that burn," says Bryan Fagerstrom, Hibbing Fire Marshal.

The biggest single cause of heating fires in Minnesota is the chimney.
Specialists say you should have your chimney cleaned by a professional at least once a year.

"Sometimes a chimney can use a simple cleaning and we'll be out of there in a half hour, other times it might take a little bit more than that, depending on how bad the buildup is," says Jim Sallis, Chimney Cleaning Specialist at Warner Enterprises.

"It's definitely not something that you want to mess around with. Everyone that works with Warner Enterprises are also firemen and we've seen the devastation that a chimney fire can cause people."

Officials also advise leaving at least three feet of clearance between combustible items and electrical equipment in the home.

Posted to the web by Gabrielle Ware