Weather Forecast


House fires on the rise

Since mid-December, there have been at least eight house fires across Douglas County.

At least three people were injured; fortunately, there were no fatalities.

0 Talk about it

House fires occur more often during winter than any other season, according to the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s office.

Nearly half of house fires occur during the months of December, January and February.

Alexandria Fire Marshal Dennis Stark said he doesn’t have an exact explanation for what seems like more local house fires this year.

He said, “This cold weather may or may not have an effect. I suppose because of the cold weather, people are staying inside more.”

Regarding the cause of the fires, Stark said it varies – everything from electrical and heating to cooking and candles.

Stark quickly pointed out that the three major causes of fires each year are men, women and children.

“It really comes down to that,” he said.

“Now, certain things are out of our control, but on the other hand, so many things are preventable and that’s why we have to be extra sensitive [to fire prevention], especially with cold winter weather.”

Stark asks people to be extra careful about what they’re doing to stay warm.

“Make sure to unplug appliances and don’t leave heating devices too close to combustibles – things like bedding and clothing,” he said.

“Be conscious and be aware of what may happen.”

The impact of seeing several photos of local house fires may be a good reminder for people to check their home’s smoke alarm batteries and create or review their family’s escape plan.

Stark also offered these safety reminders:

● Unplug appliances when they’re not in use.

● Stay in the kitchen when cooking.

● Install carbon monoxide alarms and avoid warming up your vehicle in the garage.

According to the State Fire Marshal’s 2012 annual report, cooking was the leading cause of all structure fires with known causes. Heating and open flame were the second and third leading causes.

It was reported that 62 percent of all heating fires in 2012 in residential properties occurred in the fireplace/chimney area.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

(320) 763-3133