The increased risk of residential fires as temperatures drop was highlighted this week with several house fires across Victoria in Fitzroy, St Kilda and a house in Gisborne, which was totally destroyed this morning.
A family of four – two adults and two teenagers - escaped the fire uninjured thanks to a working smoke alarm.
CFA District 2 Duty Officer Craig Brittain said when firefighters arrived just after 6.00am the fire was through the roof of the double storey timber house and the occupants were out and accounted for.
“The owners were alerted to the fire by their smoke alarm. They were able to get out of the house uninjured before the top floor collapsed to the bottom floor,” Mr Brittain said.
“Although the cause of the fire is yet to be determined, it’s a timely reminder that people should check their heaters and electrical appliances.
“I also can’t stress enough the importance of having a properly fitted and working smoke alarm in your home. If a fire breaks out while you sleep, a smoke alarm can save your life,” Mr Brittain said.
This morning’s fires follow a spate of incidents in Victoria this week including one in Warburton, where the occupants were lucky to escape after their house was completely destroyed and a North Fitzroy electrical fire sparked by a faulty radio yesterday.
MFB Assistant Chief Fire Officer Rob Taylor said there are simple precautions people can take to help prevent house fires.
“As the cooler weather sets in, people tend to turn on their heaters or electric blankets and they might not have been used for six months or so. This is when heaters, especially older models, can cause fires,” he said.
“If you are in any doubt about your heating appliance, replace it or get it checked by a professional and keep your heaters a safe distance from clothes, linen and other combustibles around the home.”
CFA and MFB are advising people to:
- Ensure all heaters, including central heaters, are properly maintained
- Make sure smoke alarm batteries have been changed and the alarms tested – only a working smoke alarm saves lives
- Don’t piggy back electrical appliances off power boards. It can cause an electrical fire
- Keep drying clothes at least a metre from heaters, especially electric bar heaters
- Take care with candles and don't leave them unattended
- Keep matches and lighters well out of reach of children
- Ensure fireguards are used around wood heaters
- Keep any flammable materials and accelerants away from homes
- Don’t deadlock yourself in your home; if there is a fire escaping is made more difficult