‘It’s a lot more common than people think’: Pitt County fire marshal shares tips to heat your home, avoid fires

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Pitt County fire marshal is warning people to take the right precautions while heating their homes.

This comes as Pitt County has seen two house fires caused by electrical issues in the past couple of days.

“I can’t say that it’s common to see them this back to back, but unfortunately, it’s a lot more common than people think,” said Jay Morris, Pitt County fire marshal.

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One of those fires happened in a mobile home on Nichols Road in Bell Arthur Sunday. Three family members, Joshua, Elizabeth, and 3-year-old Jayce Eastwood lost their lives. The other happened on Monday at a home on McCrae Street in Grifton.

Morris said both of those fires were sparked by electrical issues related to space heaters.

“A lot of people don’t realize how hot space heaters actually get so you have to be really careful with them,” said Morris.

A space heater is also what caused a weekend fire in the Bronx, which killed at least 17 people.

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“The winter months are our biggest time for heater-related fires,” said Morris.

With Tuesday’s temperatures dipping into the 20s, Morris has some advice on safely heating your home.

“You should always be present when you’re using a space heater and it should always have at least three feet of clearance on either side,” he said. “Space heaters are designed because of the amount of current they carry that they should always be plugged directly into a receptacle. So you should never use an extension cord with those.”

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Morris said it’s also important not to overload your extension cords or place anything on top of them.

“Anything that compresses the cord or a kink, all of that creates extra heat coming from the extra resistance,” he said. “If you want to use it, make sure it’s out in the open.”

Morris said our best defense against fire is a working smoke detector. He recommends checking it every month and replacing batteries as needed.

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