Space heaters provide warmth but can also be dangerous - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Space heaters provide warmth but can also be dangerous

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YAKIMA, Wash.-- With the cold winter temperatures people around the Columbia Basin and Yakima Valley are trying to stay warm. So many, opt to use space heaters, but sometimes, the dangers can greatly out way the advantages.

Within a matter of minutes a space heater can ignite anything close by and put your whole family at risk.

Firefighters put on a demonstration for us Thursday and as you can see, the amount of heat produced by the heaters can easily catch clothing or other material on fire.

In December alone, the Yakima Fire Department has seen 15 house fires, 3 of which were confirmed to have been started by a space heater. Damage in all three, was estimated in the tens of thousands of dollars.

In one case a child barely made it out before the blaze tore through the home.

Firefighters say anyone who uses the heaters needs to realize that they can be very dangerous.

"When they're running at night and you have combustibles around there and housekeeping isn't what it should be, there's a potential for a fire there," said Capt. Brandon Dorenbush with the Yakima Fire Dept.

Firefighters recommend people use newer space heaters that have been lab tested and provide fail safe switches so they don't flare up.

Also, always remember to keep a three foot perimeter around the heater and never leave it on over night.