People move inside in cold weather; so do fires

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Firefighters say they often hear there are more fires in the winter. Veterans like Reno Fire Marshal Tray Palmer will tell you that's not true.

"Fires are pretty much the same all throughout the year. We have more wild land fires, more outdoor fires in the summer, more indoor fires and more accidental fires in the winter."

So, people move indoors when the weather gets cold and so do fires or at least the activities that cause them.

A good example is a fire which destroyed an apartment, injuring the occupant and displacing five other residents in northeast Reno Wednesday, December 4, 2019.

The cause is common year round, but moves indoors where, Palmer says, it's potentially deadly.

"In fact our last three fatalities we've had here in Reno were caused by smoking. Most of the time our fatalities are caused by people smoking in bed. They get drowsy or they're drinking alcohol, they're sleepy and they drop that cigarette on to a sheet or on to a pillow or onto some kind of combustible material and it goes. When people notice it unless they have a working fire alarm, it's usually too late."

The elderly man who touched off Wednesday's fire was treated for smoke inhalation.

Some causes are directly connected to the weather, like the use of space heaters.

"People aren't familiar with the distances that they need to keep them from curtains, couches, beds. You need to look at the manufacturer's spec and look at the clearance you need to keep from combustibles. Typically we say if you don't know three feet."

And then there are the holidays.

"People bring in all the combustible decorations inside and they're bringing candles with the Christmas season."

Even the holiday meals pose potential hazards.

"We get kitchen fires. In fact, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires these days."

"We are just asking people to be aware of their surroundings. Be aware when you're bringing in heat sources and keep them away from combustibles."

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019