Fire officials emphasize space heater safety after overnight fatal house fire

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MADISON, Ala. -  Authorities said a woman in an overnight fire in New Hope saw flames near a space heater in her home. Her husband died when he returned into the home to fight the fire.

But officials said the death toll from fires is still lower than average.

"Our fire deaths are down all over the state, by just a few. Having a fire death caused by a space heater is something that we definitely don't want to see because it's preventable," said Capt. Michael Sedlacek of Madison Fire and Rescue.

Sedlacek said all space heaters pose a risk.

"Space heaters need space! That's the thing we always have to remember is that we can't put things near space heaters because they do get hot and when they radiate heat, they can become a fire hazard," explained Sedlacek. " So, we want to make sure we give them adequate room to be able to emit that heat without posing a risk to us."

Madison Fire recommends four or five feet of room, a couple of feet more than heater warning labels advise.

If you see flames in your home, your best bet is to let the professionals handle it.

"At the end of the day, the only thing you have is your own life, that's the only thing really guaranteed to us," said Sedlacek. "So we want to make sure that we're preserving that and protecting that above everything else."

The department said there is some new technology but people should still proceed with caution.

"Some of the newer ones, like infrared technology are definitely good because they're a low-fire risk for us, but they do still emit heat. So we still want to treat them the same, and give them space as well."

In a case like the New Hope fire, there was reportedly no working phone in the home.

Officials said its best to have a plan discussed with nearby neighbors in case of emergency.

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