RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Fires across Central Virginia killed two people and forced dozens out of their homes over the last few days, prompting the American Red Cross to provide assistance.
The Red Cross said they have responded to 10 fires in the Richmond region since Friday. Over the last 24 hours, the Red Cross helped find more than a dozen people a temporary home. Statewide the Red Cross responded to 17 fires and helped 50 people find a place to stay.
Doug Davies, the Goochland County Fire Marshal, said crews responded to a fire on New Town Road Friday morning and found one man dead.
“It was several days into the power outage. [The victim] did have a generator on the outside of his house, but it was close to the front of his house,” Davies said. “He was using a wood stove and a kerosene heater in the house also, so those are things that were looking at as possible contributing factors to the fire.”
In Petersburg, crews responded to a fire along Edmonds Avenue on Monday and said a space heater caused it. Just days before on Saturday, Petersburg crews also responded to a fire on Ferndale Avenue and found one person dead. However, authorities did not release the cause or origin of that blaze.
Heating unit fires aren’t just happening in the commonwealth. Making national headlines, a massive fire in a Bronx, New York apartment killed 17 people and injured several others. The cause of the fire is said to be a space heater.
Davies, with Goochland Fire, said people should make sure that their space heaters have three feet of space around them. He added every room should have both working smoke and carbon monoxide alarm.
As for generators, Davies said they should always stay a good distance from the outside of a house, and the exhaust should blow away from the building.
Jonathan McNamara, with the Red Cross, added that now is the time to create a fire evacuation plan for your home.
“Some of those fires occur in the middle of the night when people are woken up because of a smoke alarm, and they’re forced out in the street as they’re looking at their homes,” he said.
Just this past weekend, McNamara said volunteers responded to nine fires within 24 hours across the Richmond area and the Red Cross helped 12 people find a temporary home. He said they need more volunteers to join their team and help families in need.