Danville Experts Give Tips for Winter Fire Safety

Pittsylvania Co., VA - A Chatham woman lost everything in an early morning blaze Thursday. This is the fourth fire in the last 10 days in Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties.

Crews responded to her home on Collie Street in Chatham shortly after 6 a.m., but it was too late to save the home.

Most of the fires are still under investigation, but at least one of them is believed to have been caused by a heating apparatus.

Experts say it's important during the winter months, especially around the holidays, to take certain precautions to make sure this doesn't happen to you.

Linda Dozier awoke Thursday morning to find her home engulfed in flames. She was safe in a neighbor's home at the time, but she's still devastated.

"I lost everything. It's sad, " said Dozier.

Experts say this time of year is peak season for residential fires.

"We start getting kicked up around November, December when the temperature changes, " said Danville Fire Marshal Shelby Irving.

Irving says there are ways to protect your home during the winter months.

Never leave your stove unattended while cooking, have a protective screen to catch embers from your fireplace and use caution with temporary heating options.

"Space heaters need space. All space heaters should have at least a 3 foot margin all the way around it, " Irving said.

And be sure not to leave heaters running too long.

"Use it to warm your room up, take it down, unplug it, let it cool off and go again. They're not made to run all day and all night, " Irving said.

Dozier and others affected by recent fires say they just feel lucky to be alive.

Irving says working smoke alarms are the key to prevent fires from claiming more than just property.

"We have a very good smoke alarm program here in Danville, so hopefully the smoke alarms are alerting the occupants before the fire gets out of hand."

Irving says another issue with heating appliances is carbon monoxide.

Be sure to properly inspect your heater and its cord before using it, and make sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a carbon monoxide build-up.