Protect Your House from Fires as Temperatures Drop

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COLUMBIA - You may be moving inside and turning up the heat as the temperatures start to drop. But the more time you spend inside, the more likely it is for a fire to start in your home.

Earlier this week, the Columbia Fire Department set fire to a mock dorm room at Speaker's Circle on the University of Missouri's campus. In just 90 seconds, the entire room was engulfed in flames. A fire will double in size for every minute it goes uncontrolled.

It was only a demonstration but it was a real fire and it could really happen in your home, especially during the cooler months.

Assistant Fire Marshal Shawn McCollom says his department typically responds to more house fires when it's cold.

"We see a lot of people starting to use solid wood burning things like a fire place or wood burning stove," he said. "They turn on their heater now full of dust and that hasn't been cleaned."

One of the most fire-prone rooms in your house is the kitchen. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says more than 40% of house fires are related to cooking equipment.

  • Nationally, in 2011, refrigerators caused 149 fires.
  • Microwave ovens caused 81 fires.
  • In Columbia, Fire Marshal Brad Frazier says there were 73 cooking-related fires last year.

McCollom says the numbers should not be a cause for concern.

"I would say in this day and age, appliances are very safe. They're tested.. very stringently," he said.

Another frequent fire area of the home is the fireplace. There were nine chimney fires last year in Columbia.

"If you're gonna use a fireplace or anything like that have them cleaned, make sure they're inspected on a regular basis so we know they're gonna work and they're gonna work well," he said.

And check your smoke detector for working batteries because it could save your life.

According to Consumer Reports, there were 1.6 million recalled refrigerators and 1.2 million toaster ovens between 2007-2011. To find out if you own a recalled appliance, visit or