Louisiana Fire Marshal issues emergency alert

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WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE) - As temperatures continue to drop, heater-related fires are making their marks across Louisiana. Tuesday morning, the Fire Marshal Browning issued an emergency alert in anticipation of the record-breaking cold and freezing temperatures currently being experienced throughout the State.

Fire Marshal Deputies have responded to seven fire investigations during the past 12 hours. These fires were in multiple areas of the State and ranged from single-family residential fires to significant commercial structure fires. There has been one reported injury associated with these fires. Fire Marshal Deputies have been placed on standby and will continue to respond in a very efficient and professional manner.

The parish of Ouachita has also experienced a number of fires after the cold temperatures have arrived. Dusty Harris, the Fire Prevention Officer with the Ouachita Parish Fire Department said his team has responded to at least 20 fires since Christmas.

"We have noticed an increase in structure fires due to people trying to keep warm," Harris said.

He said some were caused by open-faced heaters, which should never be left alone or should be unplugged when left unattended. Harris said to also check the cord for damage and never overload power outlets and strips.

"If you have too much energy being demanded from that plug that it's actually able to give then resistance heating can start fires," he said.

Harris said this can start a fire in the walls of your home, so making sure you have a working smoke detector is important. Also, having a carbon monoxide detector can help. Deputies say never to use an oven or stove to heat your home and keep an eye on your lawn.

"We experience lots of grass fires and the grass fires spread to structure fires real quickly," Harris said.

He said saving money on your gas bill is convenient, but saving a life is more important.

"You need to have items that are made to heat the home, heat the home. And not makeshift items," Harris said.

Please remain alert and aware of the following safety principles during the next several days:

*Each residential occupancy should have working smoke alarms in each sleeping area and outside of each sleeping area.
*Heating devices should only be used for their intended use. Manufacturers' recommendation for safe use should be adhered to.
*Check regularly on the family, friends, and neighbors who may need assistance during these adverse weather conditions.
*If using gas fired heating devices make sure that there is a functional carbon monoxide alarm installed in the home.

If you need assistance keeping your home warm this winter check out these programs:

Louisiana Weatherization Assistance Program
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) provides grants to states, territories, and some Indian tribes to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families. These governments, in turn, contract with local governments…

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists eligible low-income households with their heating and cooling energy costs, bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, weatherization and energy-related home repairs.