Fire officials are urging caution when using space heaters after a 6-year-old boy narrowly escaped injury in a fire at his North Highlands home early this morning.
The boy was asleep about 1 a.m. in a room that had been converted from a garage in the 3600 block of McClellan Drive, with heat provided by two electric space heaters plugged into back-to back extension cords. Two adults were inside the house watching TV, unaware that the space heaters had overloaded the extension cords and started a fire, according to a Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District news release.
When the boy's parents returned home, they smelled smoke in the house and found the couch in the room engulfed in flames. The father carried his son to safety while others tried to put out the fire.
Sacramento Metro fire crews arrived to find a smoldering fire with thick black smoke in the converted garage. They removed the smoldering items, extinguished the fire and cleared the smoke from the house.
Officials said the fire was caused by extension cord failure, explaining that the cords were not rated for the load of current required by the space heaters, causing them to overheat and ignite the carpet. The fire then spread to the couch.
The one working smoke alarm in the house was in the hallway near the bedrooms, and the light smoke in the house was not enough to activate it, officials said. No smoke alarms were in or near the converted garage.
Before leaving, firefighters provided the residents with a second smoke alarm.
Fire officials remind people to keep anything that can burn at least three feet from heating equipment and to turn off portable heaters when going to bed. They also stress the importance of using properly rated extension cords, plugging high-energy equipment directly into a wall outlet and making sure there are working smoke alarms near every room where sleeping occurs.