Tuesday’s early morning fire in the Evergreen community was the second heating element-related fire the Itawamba County Sheriff’s Office has investigated this winter, according to Sheriff Chris Dickerson.
Dickerson said they usually see fires started by space heaters or other heating implements during cold snaps.
“When we have something like this arctic blast that came through, they get in their mind that it’s going to be so cold they’ll freeze to death and sometimes go to extremes to make sure they’re kept warm,” Dickerson said. “When you do that, if you’re not careful, you might do things you wouldn’t normally do to keep the home warm.”
Dickerson said one of the children who survived Tuesday’s fatal fire told investigators the children in the home had been playing near a space heater.
“You have to be real careful, especially parents with children, to make sure they don’t leave something when everyone goes to bed,” Dickerson said. “Everything should be at least three feet from the heater, and never lay things on the heater.”
Dickerson said understanding the capabilities and proper operation of space heaters can go a long way.
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, also the state fire marshal, issued a statement Tuesday reminding Mississippians to use caution when operating heating elements.
“With the dramatic drop in temperature to extreme levels in some areas, everyone must use extra precaution when using space heaters or alternative methods as heating sources,” he said in a release Tuesday. “Space heating poses a much higher risk of fire, death and injury than central heating.”