SPOKANE, Wash. - With sub-zero temperatures hitting Spokane, some people struggling to stay warm may turn to alternative heat sources, but city officials urge residents to stay safe as they stay warm.
Every year, space heaters send homes up in flames, and sometimes it turns deadly. Last year, a house fire in Walla Walla that killed a 3-year-old girl was started by a space heater.
The Spokane Fire Department says it sees an increase in house fires every winter.
"We've had fires where people have put small heaters in their closets around clothing or in their bathrooms around towels," said Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.
If you need to run a portable heater, the fire department says to keep any objects that could catch fire at least three feet away. It also says to keep those heaters out of reach from kids and pets.
City officials also want you to avoid using alternative forms of heating your home.
"We really want you to stay away from using any generators or charcoal or gas barbecues inside because those create fumes that can be deadly." said Tiffany Turner with the Spokane Regional Health District.
"People will actually use their ovens with the doors open to where it really puts a stress on their electrical system, especially if they have older wiring that can cause a fire," Schaeffer said.
It's also important to keep your chimney clear before using it.
And if you are wondering how you're going to pay for heat this winter, Avista says you have options.
"The important thing is to call us," said Debbie Simock with Avista. "Let us know so that we can work together with the customer."
She says they can also get you in contact with other organizations that can provide energy relief.
"Through our CARES representatives, we do make referrals to SNAP and other community action agencies," she said.
Avista says it also has policies about not cutting off service for customers when temperatures are this cold.
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