Three destructive house fires in the last few weeks have led firefighters to call on Glenelg Shire residents to become more aware of the dangers of heaters, electrical appliances and wood fires.
CFA District 4 Assistant Chief Fire Officer John Leben said the three fires, in Casterton, Merino and Dartmoor, all led to homes being destroyed.
“Two of these fires happened with 72 hours of each other. In Casterton a faulty dryer in a detached laundry caused the fire. In Merino, a wood fire was lit with no-one at home at the time to watch it,” he said.
“Fortunately, at least in the last fire – in Dartmoor – the resident did have a smoke alarm installed which alerted them to a fire in their home.
“People have lost their homes, their possessions. Some of these homes are rental properties, so both tenants and landlords have been impacted.”
ACFO John Leben said due to the cold weather, there was an increased risk this time of year for fires, caused by wood stoves and electrical heating.
“In the Glenelg Shire we have a lot of wood heaters and fireplaces. Never leave home without extinguishing these. Fireplaces quickly become a hazard if fuel falls out of the fireplace. Always use a secure guard or fireproof screen,” he said.
To reduce the risk of fire starting from your fireplace or wood heater you should:
- Use a torch to check for creosote build-up or obstructions
- Have your chimney professionally cleaned annually
- Only burn dry, clean wood
- Extinguish your fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
ACFO John Leben said gas heaters should also inspected and serviced every two years to protect loved ones from carbon monoxide poisoning or fire.
“Checking all of your electrical appliances are working properly is a great place to start. And if drying clothes please ensure they are positioned at least one metre away from the heat source and constantly monitored to reduce the chance of them igniting.”
To keep your family safe the CFA recommends you:
- Check your smoke alarm monthly.
- Make sure you have a home fire escape plan in place and practice it with your whole family.
- Your home office should be set up safely. No overloaded power boards or loose cables.
- Never leave cooking unattended.
- Turn off all appliances, including heaters and electrical blankets, before going to bed.
Remember to visit cfa.vic,gov.au for the latest advice in preventing fires in the home and what to do in the event there is a fire.