Experts urge caution when using space heaters, fireplaces during cold weather


Samuel Johnson splits firewood the old fashioned way, and he's done it since he was a youngster.

"We used to have a wood burning stove in the house," said Johnson. "So we used to go into the woods and cut down trees"

Now Johnson, and his boss Ed Jaeger, use a hydraulic splitter to fill firewood orders, and for the past few days business has been brisk.

"In the last two weeks, we have been averaging two cords a day -- sometimes more, sometimes less," said Jaeger.

With a freeze blowing in the wind, Jack Ratliff says the kerosene heater is a lifesaver.

"I don't have central air or heat," said Ratliff. "I don't have none of that so I have to depend on this."

With the cold snap comes a warning from firefighters to be careful with heating.

"Maintain a three foot buffer around any space heater that includes any combustible material as well as kids and pets," said Fayetteville Fire Capt. Ronnie Willet.

Here and across the nation, firefighters say hundreds of fires have been blamed on improper use of kerosene and electric space heaters.

Tim Jenkins tells everyone that buys a heater from him to be careful. At the Lowe's store in Fayetteville, gas logs and infrared heaters are hot items this year.

"I think they are a little safer because you don't see the lamp, the heated lamp because they have blowers and it blows out warm air," said Jenkins.

Firefighters say, when used safely, logs and portable heaters are safe, but they warn it only takes a second to start a fire.

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