COLLEGE PARK – Prince George's County fire investigators say a wood stove caused a fire Sunday night displacing a family.
The fire broke out around 8:30 p.m. in the 9800 block of 48th Avenue in the Hollywood section of College Park.
"When fire crews arrived on the scene they reported smoke and fire showing from the rear of a two-story house,” said Mark Brady, spokesperson for the Prince George's County Fire Department.
"Firefighters from Branchville Volunteer Fire Department advanced an attack line into the house and located the fire in a room [and brought] the fire under control within 10 minutes,” said Volunteer Fire Chief William Corrigan of the College Park Volunteer Fire Department.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2013, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 64,100 U.S. home fires, 540 civilian deaths, 1,400 civilian injuries and $943 million in direct property damage. The peak months for home heating fires are December, January and February. NFPA urges the public to be cautious when using heating equipment.
With temperatures dropping, accompanied by increased cost of home heating fuels and utilities, Brady said many residents are searching for alternative home-heating sources such as wood-burning stoves, space heaters and fireplaces.
However, Brady said that heating is one of the leading causes of residential fires. Over one-quarter of these fires result from improper maintenance of equipment, specifically the failure to clean the equipment, he adds.
"Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly," Brady said. "Wood stoves should have adequate clearance [3 feet] from combustible surfaces and proper floor support and protection.”
Brady said wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design and should be evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Residents should have their chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time. Experts warn to never use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire and never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.