Bitter Winter Brings Busiest January for Fires in Chief's Memory - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Bitter Winter Brings Busiest January for Fires in Chief's Memory

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More than 20 fires have broken out in Erie since the new year started, making it an extraordinarily busy season for firefighters.  The fires have caused two deaths just this year and left at least four homes a total loss.

The fires have also been more severe than usual, with the cold temperatures creating more challenging working conditions for crews. 

The most common cause we've seen this year has been electrical.

Just a few examples: Old wiring caused a blaze that kept crews on scene for more than five hours and left a home on W. 3rd a total loss.

An overloaded electrical cord on W. 21st Street left one man dead from smoke inhalation. 

The bitter cold has means improperly used heating devices are another source of fires. 

A wood burning stove destroyed more than 100-thousand in property at this home on E. Arlington. 

And a family warming up their home with the oven on Raspberry Street caused a blaze that lasted hours, with temperatures dipping below -10 degrees. This house was also a total loss. 

Erie's fire chief says the extreme cold played a major role in the spike in fires. 

 "There have been a lot, far more than normal, I can't remember a January this busy in my career, all in one month, just one after another," said Erie Fire Chief Tony Pol. "And it really just has a lot to do with the severe temperatures that are just hanging around."  

With so many using alternative heating sources this season, Pol said he could not stress enough for people to use extra caution when heating their homes. 

2014 has already seen two fatalities from fires, while there were zero deaths in the city of Erie in all of 2013. 


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