Red Cross Reports Record-Breaking Response Weekend

fire response
Heating sources are the leading cause of cold-weather fires but there are steps everyone can take to reduce the risk.

American Red Cross volunteers assisted a record number of fire victims this past weekend – a total of 82 people – whose homes caught fire in the Central-Southeast Ohio region. Two of the fires took place in multi-unit structures, including the one Friday evening that resulted in a fatality. The other multi-unit fire impacted the most people – twelve – in one location, including a child who was treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital for smoke inhalation. In all, volunteer Disaster Response Teams deployed to fifteen fires from Friday night through yesterday.

And it was an expensive weekend as well: a total of $9,648 in assistance was provided as a result of the weekend’s fires. Volunteers distribute that assistance based on national guidelines to meet the immediate needs of shelter, food and clothing for those impacted by disasters. Many of the fires are still being investigated as to what was their cause, but at least one appears to be a result of the recent colder weather, as it apparently started as a chimney fire.

“We need to remind people to be cautious once the temperatures start to dip,” said Matt Bertram, CEO of the American Red Cross Central-Southeast Ohio. “Heating sources are the leading cause of cold-weather fires but there are steps everyone can take to reduce the risk.”

The Red Cross offers these fire prevention tips:

  • All heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
  • The Red Cross depends on the generous support of residents to be ready to respond and help our neighbors who are affected by home fires. You can help provide relief from disasters like home fires by making a tax-deductible donation today. To make a financial donation please visit redcross.org, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

    For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, visit redcross.org/homefires.