orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Local News

November 16, 2013

Space heaters require maintenance

ORANGE — A fire left an elderly woman and her granddaughter without a home.

The two woman are staying with family after a wall heating unit may have lead to the fire that destroyed the house.

 The City of Orange Fire Department responded to a report of a house fire at 3:05 p.m. Wednesday at 1207 11th Street.

An Orange Police unit was the first to arrive and reported heavy smoke and flames coming from the house.

“The granddaughter said she saw flames coming from the attic when she returned home,” Deputy Fire Chief/EMC Jerald L. Ziller. “She said she saw what she described as sparks coming from the wall unit.”

The younger woman is reported as being the person to remove the older woman from the house.

“The granddaughter returning to the house,” Ziller said. “If there had been one traffic light or a train enroute, this could have ended differently. She saved her grandmother’s life.”

The fire was brought under control in 20 minutes but fire crews remained on the scene until 4:45 p.m. to insure all fire was extinguished.

“We did not hear any smoke detectors while we were extinguishing the fire,” Ziller said. “In my experience, the first cold snap of the season there is always a house fire.”

Ziller said maintaining the heating system and having it checked annually could prevent such fires.

“Working smoke detectors also need to be checked,” Ziller said. “If the fire started at 3 a.m. it could have ended differently.”

Smoke detectors need to be replaced every ten years according to Ziller who said it is essentially to safety to ensure the batteries are replaced and installed.

The City of Orange Fire Department has a smoke detector program for those who are underprivileged.

“We will give you a smoke detector and install it for you,” Ziller said. “If you are able to afford to buy one but do not know where to install it, call us, we are your source for that information.”

Ziller said those living outside the Orange city limits should call their local fire departments to ask if they offer a similar program.

Tom Sladaritz, general manager for Bell Air Service Efficient Systems in Orange, said maintenance on heating units is important.

“Birds, wasp can get into the flue pipe,” Sladaritz said. “Muddobbers get everywhere.”

Bell Air Service Efficient Systems does not install space heating or wall space heaters.

“The units we install only require thirty minutes maintenance in the fall,” Sladaritz said. “Electric ones take a little longer.”

He also said that if there is rust around the burners or the heater requires a pilot light, it needs to be replaced for safety reasons.

“Heating units are like vehicles,” Sladaritz said. “They have to be maintained. Older furnaces can develop cracks in the exchange.”

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