“It could happen here.”: Wilmington Fire warns locals in the wake of deadly space heater fires


Wilmington Fire’s Wendy Giannini-King says though we don’t have as many high rise apartments, disaster like the one in New York could happen here if we don’t take the right precautions. Giannini recommends starting with an escape plan.

“Leaving a door open behind can cause flames to spread,” she said, “and smoke to move, so close the door and get yourself outside as fast as you can.”

Living in a high rise, if the doorknob is hot and you can’t get out, open a window.

“And get to a place where someone can see you,” Giannini continued. “Where firefighters can see you.”

In 2021 alone, Wilmington received almost 9,700 calls. 548 were fire calls, some caused by space heaters.

Giannini urges people with space heaters to exactly that: space the heaters at least three feet from anything that could catch fire and unplug it when you’re going to sleep or leaving a room.

​According to Giannini, “Unplugging is the extra step. It’s the best practice and it’s really the safest thing, aside from that distance from anything that could burn. Those are my two most important tips for everyone.”

With space heater related fires claiming around 300 lives a year in the US, experts recommend discussing your fire exit plan with everyone in your home and practicing it so you’ll be ready in the event of an emergency.

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