CY-FAIR, Texas (FOX 26) - Some may be calling the weather outside our first cold snap, but many firefighters in Houston call it something much different as they see an uptick in house fires.
"All they did was turn on their heater, and the next thing you knew they had fire going through their roof," says Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department Chief Amy Ramon.
Chief Ramon says it doesn't matter, whether a space heater or one installed at home, our first cold snap should trigger an important reminder.
"Now when we have our couple days of cold weather through this season, you need to make sure your central heat is checked. You need to make sure your space heaters are up to date," says Chief Ramon.
The Cy-Fair Fire Department demonstrating what could possibly happen if an item, like a stuffed animal is left, unattended, near a space heater.
"If anything were to fall into there, accidentally, the edge of a blanket or something, it wouldn't take much and it certainly wouldn't take a long time for it to ignite," says Captain David Padovan with the Cy-Fair Volunteer FD.
A thermal imager reading the temperature of the bunny as it quickly warmed above 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat emitted by a space heater is intense enough to initially melt the fiber.
"When you have a space heater, you keep it 3 feet away from any combustible material," says Chief Ramon.
In addition, never leave the heater unattended.
Newer space heaters should come with a protective grill on the front and be UL tested, enabling an automatic shut off if the heater gets too hot or is tipped over.
"And make sure you're plugging the space heater directly into the wall and not to a surge protector. It's not made to do that," warns Captain Padovan.