Winter house fires commonly heating-related - Tucson News Now

Winter house fires commonly heating-related

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Two men are alive in Henrico, after escaping a fire that spread underneath their home. Fire crews say the fire surrounded an HVAC unit on the side of the house, on Fort Hill Drive in the West End. Flames burned into the crawlspace.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. However, a fire, such as this one, could have been heating related. Heating-related fires are one of the most common reasons homes go up in flames during the winter, according to fire officials.

Smoke detectors woke the home's owner Thomas Coleman and his partner, Saturday evening.

"I immediately smelled the smoke, and I saw the haze," said Coleman.

The pair made it out, as firefighters battled their way in. The flames tore through the crawlspace, centered near the HVAC unit. The washer and dryer are hooked-up directly on the other side of the wall, on the inside of the home.

The flames were so difficult to reach, that firefighters had to cut a hole through the living room floor in the midst of heavy smoke, to extinguish the rest of the fire.

"I heard chainsaws going, and (firefighters) were just pulling everything out and trying to find the source of the smoke…black, thick smoke," described Coleman.

Firefighters controlled the fire successfully. However, it's not certain if the HVAC, or electrical wires in the wall, are to blame. Regardless, Henrico Fire Captain Daniel Rosenbaum says HVAC units need to be checked yearly.

"Make sure that they're in good service, especially the backup heat, which is usually the electric heat. That can catch fire if it's not maintained properly," said Rosenbaum.

Coleman says his heating system is new and routinely maintained. Still, it's never certain when a fire may spark.

"Yesterday, I was decorating for Christmas. And today, I have no home to decorate," continued Coleman.

However, Coleman and his partner are very grateful to have made it out of the house safely. They are being helped by the local Red Cross.

Captain Rosenbaum says that heating related fires cause more deaths in the home than anything else.

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