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Overloaded circuit powering portable heater causes Roseburg house fire

Investigators determined the fire was the result of an overloaded electrical circuit powering a portable radiant heater. This photo shows the burned outlet, Nov. 7, 2018. (Roseburg Fire Department photo)

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- A portable heater caused a fire to break out at a Roseburg home Wednesday night, Roseburg Fire Department reports.

Around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Roseburg Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire at 1271 NW Keasey St.

One of the occupants, the adult son of the owners, was awake in his bedroom when he noticed a small fire inside his closet. He alerted the other three members of his family, and he and his father used two home fire extinguishers to extinguish the fire, which had grown to the size of his entire closet, destroying clothes and other items inside it.

All occupants exited the home.

Arriving firefighters located a smoldering fire inside the bedroom closet.

After confirming it was completely extinguished and contained to the closet, firefighters used fans to ventilate the home and remove the smoke. Family members reported that two cats were unaccounted for, but they were quickly located nearby, unharmed.

A total of nine firefighters assisted with firefighting operations. Other agencies assisting with the fire included Avista, Roseburg Police Department, and Pacific Power.

A fire investigator on scene determined the fire was the result of an overloaded electrical circuit powering a portable radiant heater.

Roseburg Fire Department passes along these safety items as the weather turns colder:

The Roseburg Fire Department would like to remind everyone that electrical fires account for a large portion of the home fires that fire departments respond to every year," the department said. "With colder weather approaching, many families utilize portable space heaters as supplemental heat sources in the home. These appliances draw a large amount of electricity, and it is important to remember several safety measures.
First, always plug a portable electric space heater directly into a wall outlet; never use power strips, extension cords, or multi-plug adapters. Second, ensure that the space heater is tested by a nationally recognized company, such as Underwriter’s Laboratories, is in good working order, and has a switch that automatically turns the heater off when it is tipped over. Finally, maintain a clearance of at least eighteen inches around all portable space heaters, and do not place any combustible items, such as clothes or paper, directly on top of them. It is also a good idea to unplug space heaters when not in use and unattended, as the thermostat can turn them on automatically and cause an over-heating situation.
This incident is a great reminder that home fire extinguishers, when properly maintained and utilized, can make all the difference during those critical moments between the discovery of a small fire and the few minutes it takes firefighters to respond to the scene. However, homeowners should always ensure that the extinguishers are in good working order, located in accessible areas, and family members are knowledgeable in their use. It is also important to understand the limitations of such fire extinguishers, and know when evacuation is the best option. Most common household fire extinguishers are capable of extinguishing a small trashcan or electrical fire, but once a fire grows larger, it is best to safely evacuate the home. Finally, always remember to call 911 before taking any other action, to ensure that first responders are on their way.
It is also important to ensure your family has a fire escape plan. Fire escape plans allow your family to have a plan in place in case of a fire. Families should create a plan together, practice the plan together, and in case of a fire – escape together. It is important that everyone knows two ways out of every room. Make sure escape doors and windows are clear and easy to open. Your plan should include a safe meeting place outside. Remember – Get Out and Stay Out!
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