State Police say a wood stove may be to blame for a deadly fire in New Haven.
The fire broke out just after 5 p.m. Thursday at 667 County Route 64 in the Town of New Haven. When firefighters got to the scene, the two-story home was engulfed. In fact, Oswego County Fire Coordinator Donald Forbes says the man inside, 55-year-old Adrian "Sunny" Richardson, was probably dead before anyone was even able to call 911. He says the flames were so strong, firefighters were not able to go inside the house when they got there.
Family members say Richardson live in that house his entire life. They say he did not have a car. He usually woke up early and went to bed when the sun went down. He also had several pets who died in the fire.
Forbes says over the last two months, there have been 12 fires linked to space heaters, wood stoves, and chimneys. He urges everyone to use extreme caution when operating alternate heating and lighting sources this winter. Space heaters, kerosene heaters, woodstoves and chimneys as well as lanterns and candles can be very dangerous if not used properly.
"Proper installation, proper maintenance and good working smoke detectors can mean the difference between life or death," Forbes said.
In the last two months, 12 structure fires have been caused by woodstoves or space heaters in Oswego County alone, leaving several families homeless.
Here are some tips from the Oswego County Health Department to heat your home safely during the winter:
- Children should not have access to portable heaters, whether electric or fuel-powered.
- All heaters that run on fuel (wood, natural gas, kerosene, butane, oil) should be vented. The only exception to this rule is electric heaters or professionally installed ventless gas appliances.
- Do not use the kitchen oven or stove top to heat your home. This can be a fire hazard as well as a source of toxic fumes.
- "Space" heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
- If you are using supplemental portable electric heaters, never use an extension cord. Plug them directly into the electrical outlet.
- Before purchasing a portable heater, make sure it has "tip switches." These switches are designed to automatically shut off the heating unit in the event it tips over.
- Never refuel a space heater while it is in operation or is still hot.
- ONLY refuel portable heaters outdoors! Use the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer, and follow instructions carefully.
- Glass doors or a metal screen should be placed in front of your fireplace to prevent sparks or hot ash from igniting carpets, furniture, or other combustible items.
- Do not burn barbeque charcoal indoors -- not even in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. It releases odorless, but toxic, carbon monoxide fumes and can cause death!
- Install both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors that are equipped with a battery back up in your home. Make sure that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are on every level of the home and that smoke alarms are also in every bedroom in the home. Test the alarms monthly, and change the batteries at least once a year.
For more winter safety tips contact the Oswego County the Oswego County Health Department at (315) 349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3547.