LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) - A blaze that displaced a family in Lakeland began when a space heater tipped over, authorities said.
The fire broke out just after midnight Thursday at a home in the 700 block of Savannah Ave.
Firefighters arrived to find the home engulfed in flames, "approximately 75% involved with fire," officials said.
The home had no working smoke alarms, but the residents, two adults, one child, and a dog, were able to wake up and evacuate, the fire department said.
The fire was extinguished, but the home sustained significant damage and the family was displaced. The American Red Cross has provided them with assistance.
Investigators suspect the fire was caused by a space heater that fell near combustibles like clothing and other fabrics.
"The Lakeland Fire Department is sharing the news of this unfortunate incident in hopes that it serves as a reminder to others to take special precautions to stay fire-safe; especially as temperatures plunge in the upcoming winter months," the agency said in a news release before offering the following safety tips:
- Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
- Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
- Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you're leaving a room or going to sleep, and don't let pets or children play too close to a space heater.
- Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
- Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
- Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.
- Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
- Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
- Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.