December House Fires Double From 2015

Red Cross Says Majority Caused By Electricity

It took almost an hour for three dozen firefighters, four support vehicles and eight fire trucks to put out a house fire, Christmas night, in western Sioux Falls. The Red Cross was able to help the family whose home has extensive smoke and fire damage. This fire is one of several that have happened just this month and the Red Cross wants to make sure that number doesn’t increase as the winter season continues.

“So far, this month, we’ve had twelve home fires in eastern South Dakota and we’ve served about thirty five clients,” explained Ray Sorensen, the Disaster Program Manager for the Eastern South Dakota Territory of the Red Cross.

Compared to last December, the number of total house fires in December was six.

“It’s more than average for a month,” said Sorensen comparing December 2016 to December 2015 numbers. “But it’s sort of on-par with the amount of fires that we get in a typical winter season.”

And as winter begins, Disaster Program Manager Ray Sorensen wants to make sure your home isn’t one of the thirty or forty that are typically seen by first responders and, when they’re called to assist, the Red Cross.

Because the weather was warmer than average for the fall months, Sorensen says that the majority of the fires they’ve seen this December are electrical.

“A lot of times, it is electrical in nature… caused when people are turning on their furnace for the first time in the season or things like space heaters.”

He says that fires caused by space heaters are caused based on where you plug them in.

“Space heaters shouldn’t be plugged into a power strip. Power strips are not made to handle the load that a typical space heater takes and they could over heat.”

To avoid fires in the kitchen, says Ray Sorensen, Disaster Program Manager for the Eastern South Dakota Territory of the Red Cross, never leave anything on the stove unattended, have a fire extinguisher near and know how to use it. Along with never putting water on a grease fire, have working smoke alarms in the kitchen and throughout the house.

“We always, always, tell people to have working smoke alarms in your home. That is the single greatest thing that you can do to prevent fatalities or injuries from a fire if it does break out in your home.” Sorensen also says another way to increase your chance of survival should a house fire occur is to know your exits throughout your house.

In addition to assisting families that have been displaced by house fires, Ray Sorensen, Disaster Program Manager for Eastern South Dakota Territory of the Red Cross, says that they’ll sometimes take out supplies like water and snacks to firefighters battling large fires.

If you are interested in receiving a free smoke alarm and have it installed for free as well, click here.

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