CEDAR CITY – An electric heater started a fire Sunday that took a Cedar City man’s home and nearly everything he owned, authorities said.
Fire crews responded about 10 a.m. to a 911 call reporting a structure fire at 2503 W. 5500 North.
According to Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips, an electric heater sitting on a dresser in the back room fell down on some clothes.
“It was an old heater so it just continued to burn after it fell over,” Phillips said. “The new electric heaters have a safety switch that automatically turns them off. Fires from electric heaters were a lot more frequent, before the safety switch, than they are now.”
The fire ultimately destroyed the singlewide metal trailer lived in by a man estimated to be in his 60s.
“Everything he owned went up in flames,” Phillips said. “It was hard to watch because everything he owned is now gone.”
While fire crews were able to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent trailers, two did sustain some damage on the outside from the heat of the flames.
The owner of the trailer suffered from smoke inhalation. However, he refused transportation to the hospital and was checked out by emergency responders and cleared on scene.
Authorities reached out to the American Red Cross to help the owner but that assistance is limited to a couple of nights in a hotel and money for food, clothes and medications, Phillips said.
The fire chief was unable to provide any personal information on the man but said if parties are interested in helping, they can contact the Utah Red Cross at 801-605-3672. Phillips was unsure if a Go Fund Me account had been set up yet.
When it comes to fires, statistics show the winter season is the most dangerous of all, Phillips said.
The U.S. Fire Administration reports more than $2 million in property loss across the country each year and approximately 900 deaths due to winter home fires.
Other data shows 67 percent of winter fires occur in one and two-family homes and the most common time for winter home fires is between 5 to 8 p.m.
The U.S. Fire Administration reports that cooking is the leading cause of fires this time of year. Iron County Sheriff Lt. Del Schlosser warns residents however, that fires are also started during the winter by overloaded extension cords, Christmas trees, candles and indoor fires from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces.
“This time of year there are all kinds of potential fire hazards around us,” Schlosser said. “We really need to be conscious of those things otherwise the holiday season can quickly become a nightmare.”
For more statistics and winter fire safety tips visit the National Fire Protection Association’s website.
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