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Heater that family thought was 'off' nearly starts fire

March 6, 2019 – The Dunlap Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) arrived at a house fire Tuesday, March 5, in time to avert what could have been a disaster.

According to a fire department spokesman, firefighters were dispatched at 9:14 a.m., to a home at 540 East Ridge Rd., with the caller reported smoke coming from a bedroom.

Firefighters searched the residence for the source of the smoke using a Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC). They located a charred chest that was sitting up against an old-style wall heater.

The people living in the house said they thought the heater was turned off, but firefighters explained that this particular type of heater does not turn off, but only to “low.” Dropping temperatures caused the heater's thermostat to turn on the heat.

The occupant of the residence told first responders that he thought he smelled something burning the day before but could not figure out where the smell was coming from.

As you can see in the pictures, the chest was very close to igniting and could have caused a working structure fire,” Dunlap VFD spokesman said. “Please do not place any furniture or other flammable items within 3 feet of these heaters. If you are not using the heaters, have an electrician disconnect the units so they cannot accidentally come on when the temperature drops.”

Responding to the fire Tuesday were two engines and a tankers, along with seven volunteer firefighters.

Photos courtesy of Dunlap Volunteer Fire Department.