Montgomery County sheriff urges heating safety as bitterly cold temperatures approach

FULTONVILLE – This past weekend was a very busy one for emergency crews, with ice on the roads and four fires – some of which officials say were caused by faulty or improper use of heating sources.

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Authorities say a fire in the town of Florida was connected to a furnace.

As Sheriff Jeff Smith commends volunteer firefighters for all their hard work, he’s putting out some safety tips, especially with the temperatures expected to plummet.

"We want them to check their chimneys, their cleanouts for wood stoves," said Sheriff Smith. "As it gets really, really cold, people tend to load them up and get them really hot to try to make it through an overnight period or a time when they may be away at work. We want to make sure that that’s safe and doesn’t cause a problem."

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Investigators say a malfunctioning electric space heater in a bedroom was the cause of a massive fire in a Bronx high-rise that killed 17 people.

"With space heaters, electric heaters, we want them to not overload their outlets and their surge protectors, and plug multiple units in, creating a fire hazard," said Sheriff Smith. "And we don’t want things to lean against them, personal items that you have in your home — lean against a kerosene heater or a space heater and cause a fire that way. Certain propane heaters that are meant for outdoor use, we don’t want you to bring them inside."

The sheriff says use caution when thawing pipes and never heat your home with your kitchen stove.

"All those things can cause you problems. They can cause you to become ill, they can cause a fire. The tragedy that just happened in New York City, we don’t want to experience things like that."

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The sheriff says it’s also a good idea to check on neighbors to make sure they’re doing okay and have what they need.