YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Christmas weekend cold snap was dangerous for being outside.
It was also dangerous for those who were inside, who tried to beat the cold and did so the wrong way.
There were over 20 fires across the state over the holiday weekend, and five of those fires had deadly consequences.
“These are obviously records that we’re not proud of,” said State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office had investigators following up on each of the fires Tuesday, including the one on Pearl Street in Columbiana.
There was evidence found in Newcomerstown of a wood burner, electric space heater and kerosene heaters all being used.
“Most likely not used in the proper manner. With the below-zero weather, there was a family of six, and they were trying to stay warm,” said Brian Peterman, assistant bureau chief of fire investigations.
According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, it has been a bad year for fires in Ohio, with 151 people being killed to date. That’s more than the previous record from 2013.
Over 20 people have died this year by smoking while on oxygen, and more than 800 fires have been started by people being careless when throwing away cigarettes.
“I think the takeaway is that fire is a very, very real threat,” said Anita Metheny, assistant chief of the Fire Prevention Bureau.
The State Fire Marshal had every available investigator out Friday. Reardon wants people to know that they should never put anything within three feet of a space heater. Take off an oxygen mask for 10 minutes before smoking, and always have smoke detectors where you live.
“This is a trend that we just don’t like to see. That’s frustrating for us, and we know that that message of education can save lives,” Reardon said.
The State Fire Marshal suggests contacting your local fire department if you have any questions about using a space heater or oxygen tank correctly.