After NY tragedy kills 17, GR fire inspector urges space heater safety

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A malfunctioning space heater and an open door allowed a fire in a Bronx apartment building to run rampant.

Grand Rapids fire inspector Bill Smith says there are some things people can do to avoid an unimaginable tragedy like the one in New York that killed 17 people.

A lot of people use space heaters, especially when the temperature drops below what West Michigan is experiencing.

Smith urges people to make sure their space heater is plugged right into an outlet, not an extension or multiplug.

He wants people to make sure their space heater is a quality product before it’s even purchased. Look for the Underwriter Laboratories or UL sticker on it.

If it keeps blowing a fuse, that’s a warning.

“So the breaker is tripping, so the occupant goes and continues to flip that breaker in the hopes that the heater will keep running. Find a different outlet, find a different circuit to use,” said Smith.

Another issue in the Bronx fire was doors had been propped open, allowing the fire to spread quickly.

Firefighters say those heavy fire doors serve a purpose in apartment buildings and the safest way to sleep at night is with your bedroom door closed.

“Do not allow fire doors to be chocked in the open position into your stairway or into compartmentalized areas. And if you’re leaving a fire that’s in your apartment, close the door behind you,” said Smith.

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