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Fires have raged in January, and now more cold is coming

House fires happen more in the winter than any other season.
House fires happen more in the winter than any other season.

January has already surpassed the typical, monthly average for fires, with more than 30 in Jacksonville so far this month, according to the fire department. 

With temperatures expected to drop to the mid-20s Saturday night, Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Powers told WJCT News partner News4Jax that space heaters could be a risk this weekend. 

"You don't leave the space heater on in a room and leave the room or you don't leave it on at night when you're asleep just because of the dangers of that space heater," he said. "But the most important thing I can say is you need a working smoke detector that's what alerts you early on."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports approximately 1,200 fires a year are caused by space heaters.

Heating appliances are the second leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire injuries and the third leading cause of home fire death, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Officials advise that you:

  • Turn off portable heats before going to bed and before leaving a room.
  • Never use outdoor cooking equipment to heat your home or garage.
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from things in your home.

Fire officials also recommend having a home fire drill at least twice a year.
The fire department is using reserve funds to add a new position to its staff to help spread the word — a fire-safety community advocate. The employee will be tasked with attending community meetings and increasing fire education in the community. 

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says the city isn’t allocating extra funds for the position. But Curry gave the fire department the largest budget increase of any department this year. 

Information from WJCT News partner News4Jax was used in this report.