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GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - As temperatures drop, the Gastonia Fire Department is reminding residents to be extra careful with home heating.
There have already been two fires in Gastonia this season related to heaters. Last month, a home exploded after a leaky propane tank ignited next to a propane heater. Last weekend, an apartment caught fire because combustibles were left too close to a water heater.
The two fires are the beginning of what's usually a very busy season for Gastonia firefighters.
"We have heaters, we have accidents," said Jim Landis, fire inspector and public information officer for Gastonia Fire Dept.
"Anything burns. You don't have to have a spark to get a fire going. It'll ignite."
To prevent wintertime fires, Landis says to always keep objects at least three feet away from any type of heater, including water heaters.
Landis says it's also important to purchase heaters with automatic shut off features. Most new heaters will shut down if they're tipped over, but you have to check the tag to make sure the feature is included.
Landis recommends only using traditional heaters intended to be used inside a home. Grills, propane tanks, and other potentially dangerous materials need to stay outside.
"Every once in awhile you see somebody bring their charcoal grill inside the house. We definitely don't recommend doing that for a heat source. You just need to try to get a traditional heater," said Landis.
Above all, he says you need to have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home. If the alarm goes off, get out and call 911.
"As we go into the holiday season the last thing we want to see is your house burn down at Christmas time or Thanksgiving. And we sure don't want to lose a life."