Second house fire in three days displaces another Midlands county family

·3 min read

The second fire in two days in Orangeburg County displaced another family, according to the American Red Cross, which is assisting with immediate needs.

The family of four’s home on Whitman Street burned Saturday morning. The Red Cross did not report anyone being injured.

The fire was the second in Orangeburg County in three days. Wednesday, a home burned where a family of eight lived.

A slew of house fires have occurred recently in the Midlands

Kershaw County had three house fires in three weeks since late December. Another home in Sumter burned within hours of the Wednesday Orangeburg fire. Friday, a home in northeast Columbia burned.

As cold, icy weather approaches the Midlands, state agencies and fire departments have put out messages on avoiding house fires.

“This time of year is historically dangerous for residential fires and fire deaths,” the South Carolina fire marshal’s office said in a statement.

The office said that between 80% and 85% of fire fatalities occur in home fires and approximately two-thirds of heating-related deaths occur during the winter months.

The fire marshal’s office gave these safety tips:

  • Only use kerosene heaters and space heaters according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Inspect electric heaters for cracked or broken plugs and cords. If frayed, worn, or damaged, do not use the heater. Also, never use either to dry wet clothing.

  • Space heaters need space. Keep the unit on a flat surface at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Don’t let pets or children play too close to the heater. Never leave heaters unattended. Refuel kerosene heaters outdoors.

  • Always plug an electric space heater directly into the wall, not an extension cord or power strip; unplug when not in use.

  • Heating pads and electric blankets also pose a fire risk – especially if they’re more than 10 years old. Don’t place anything on top of either one while in use – this includes other blankets or pets. Never fold electric blankets or use while sleeping.

  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Only burn seasoned and dried wood. Wait until ashes are cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home. Never put ashes in a cardboard box or bag.

  • Have chimneys cleaned and inspected each year by a qualified professional. They can become filled with combustible layers of creosote.

  • Do not use the kitchen stove or oven to heat the home. Neither are designed to heat large areas, and the heating element may fail causing a fire. Never leave food cooking on the stove unattended.

  • Be careful when using candles and keep them out of reach of children and pets. Since it is an open flame,never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home. Use sturdy candle holders and extinguish upon leaving a room or going to sleep.

  • Since they are much safer to use than candles, have flashlights ready in case of a power outage. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home — inside and outside of sleeping areas. Also, sleep with the bedroom door closed. Closing the door can increase your chance for survival by slowing the spread of fire and smoke.

Beyond helping families when fires impact them, the American Red Cross collects blood donations. Currently, the Red Cross is dealing with an “unprecedented” and “historically low” blood supply, The State reported in December.

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