Two recent fires in East Rochester have served as harsh reminders of how to avoid the devastation sparked by an accidental flame in the kitchen.
A husband and wife were awakened in the middle of the night by smell of smoke on Dec. 24. They went downstairs to see a fire that had started in the kitchen. Fire crews soon arrived at the home on Hickory Street and were able to extinguish the blaze, but not before the house was charred from top to bottom.
During the evacuation, two ER police officers, William Connell and Dan Rizzo, entered the home where an elderly woman was overcome by smoke and helped get her out.
All the inhabitants of the house were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Although several electrical appliances were charging in the room, the official cause of the fire is still being investigated by the Monroe County Fire Bureau.
The next day, a fire broke out several blocks away in an apartment complex on Pine Street. Residents in the front apartment were cooking at the time, said ER fire chief Steve Williams, although the fire bureau has not confirmed this as the cause of the blaze.
“The apartment was completely damaged throughout by smoke and heat,” he said.
At least six people were displaced as a result of the fire, but no one was injured.
While cooking was found to be the leading cause of house fires in 2009, there are a number of factors that can lead to devastation for homeowners and their families. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, most residential fires occur during the winter months as people try to heat their homes.
But whether it’s a fireplace or a hot curling iron left unattended, there are many potential fire-starters in the average household, but simple fire prevention techniques can eliminate these risks and help avoid tragedy.
Practical ways to do this include supervision of heat sources. Stay in the kitchen if you’re cooking on a stove, and avoid leaving the room with a space heating running.
There are other seasonal risks that are present during the winter months. Flooding can occur if water is not turned off and pipes burst indoors. During a power outage, homeowners should run a generator too close to the home.
Carbon monoxide detectors should also be run in addition to the smoke detector.
“If you’re not using them, unplug them,” said Williams. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”