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Portable heater caused Old Silk Mill fire
The Fire Marshal’s Office of the Fredericksburg Fire Department reports that last Friday’s fire at the Old Silk Mill site was accidental, caused by a portable space heater.
Below are details from Deputy Fire Chief Mike Jones.
The fire occurred in the crawl space area under the center section of the building at 1709 Princess Anne St. This building is part of the complex on the Old Silk Mill site.
Frozen water pipes in the crawl space area leading to one of the rooms in the inn portion of the building needed thawing. A portable space heater device was placed either inside the crawl space or just outside of the entrance with the heater projecting into the space.
The heat from this device was enough to ignite the insulation and wood floor joists in this crawl space area. Due to the confined and concealed area of this space, fire department personnel had to spend considerable time opening the floor areas of two rooms to gain access to this smoldering type fire. The cause is officially listed as accidental with open flame/heat placed too close to combustible material.
With the prolonged freezing weather the Fredericksburg area has been experiencing recently, the Fredericksburg Fire Department provides the following tips when using space heater equipment.
- Keep at least three feet of clearance between your alternate heat source and anything combustible.
- Do not keep or store combustible materials in closed areas or near a heat source.
- Never leave a heater on when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep, and never leave children or pets unattended near heating sources.
- If you use an electric heater, be careful not to overload the electrical circuit.
- Avoid using electrical heaters in bathrooms as they may come in contact with water.
- Only use heaters that have been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). These heaters will have the most up-to-date safety features, such as automatic shut-offs. It is important to install and use heaters according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Do not use fuel burning appliances without the proper room ventilation.
- Never fill a kerosene heater while it is in operation or hot. Avoid overfilling.