LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin man is in serious condition after suffering burns to his hands and face in a house fire on Dec.5.
A spokesperson with UTMB in Galveston said Elrich Johnson was admitted to their burn unit after being transferred from CHI St. Luke's Memorial in Lufkin. Johnson was in a home in the 900 block of Weaver Avenue Saturday morning when the fire started.
According to Lufkin Fire Marshal Steve McCool the fire started after Johnson tried to stay warm by starting a fire with coal in a small pot. McCool said one of the coals started a small fire on the wooden floor, and it spread while Johnson was asleep. Johnson was able to escape and call 911 from a neighbor's home.
McCool said as the temperature starts to drop. the calls for fires started by improper or faulty heating go up. McCool said many fires start because of space heaters not being used properly.
"They are reasonably safe when used properly," McCool said. "If you follow directions then you are safe. If you don't, then you are risking a fire."
McCool said the main thing to do is always follow the instructions that come with the heaters.
"Many of these heaters need to be at least three feet from anything that is combustible," McCool said. "Sometimes you need to be farther away just in case a blanket falls on the floor and catches on fire from the heat. It is also best to have a space heater that has an adjustable thermostat and a safety switch that will turn off the heater if it falls over."
Even with all the safety features of new space heaters it is good to make sure you never leave heaters on when you are not around.
"A space heater is designed to heat a specific area, and you are supposed to be in that area when it is heating it and cut it off when you leave," McCool said."
One of the biggest home dangers to heating though is using a stove or even starting an open flame.
"Using something it was not made for is extremely dangerous," McCool said.
McCool also pointed out that Christmas lights can also have consequences if they are not installed properly.
"If you are going to use an extension cord you want to make sure it is not damaged," McCool said. "The actual cord your light is on you want to make sure it is not frayed, and you don't want to overload the wires by plugging too many in together."
McCool added that live trees need to be watered if you are wrapping lights around them.
"We can't stop all fires which is why I always encourage people to make sure the smoke detector is working and has good batteries," McCoool said. "We can come out and help people with that if they are unsure."