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The City of Portland, Oregon

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Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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Winter Weather Triggers Home Fires: Simple Steps Prevent Fires, Injuries, and Deaths

November 18, 2010

2:07 pm

Portland Office of Emergency Management and Portland Fire & Rescue urge all residents to take a few minutes to this week to make sure the heating source for their home is working properly. The first blast of winter weather to hit the metro area usually triggers home fires caused by a heating source, making it the second leading cause of home fires.

"We believe most of these fires this time of year can be prevented and most of all lives could be saved," said Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Paul Corah.  Between 2004 and 2008, heating-related fires killed 12 people, injured 85, and caused more than $42 million in property damages in Oregon.  Portland Fire & Rescue sees an increase of fire calls during the first few weeks of winter weather from residents just trying to stay warm without taking proper precautions. "We want people to be warm and safe," said Corah.

Portland's Office of Emergency Management director Carmen Merlo says that Portlanders can be warm and safe if people remember to check their heating source before severe weather hits.  "Taking a few minutes now to prepare your home may keep yourself and your loved ones safe through the winter season," said Merlo.  Be sure to have your chimney or wood stove professionally inspected each year, properly maintain your furnace and, if you have to use a space heater for supplemental heat, make sure it is placed three feet from anything that could catch fire.  Never leave candles burning unattended.  "They're simple steps we can take to make it through the winter months safely," said Merlo.

For more winter tips on preparing your home and fire prevention please go to

Photo credit to Dick Harris / Portland Fire & Rescue