Yakima Firefighters Say Extra Caution is Needed in the Winter - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima Firefighters Say Extra Caution is Needed in the Winter

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WEST VALLEY--Don't let the cold temperatures fool you.   Winter is a very busy season for firefighting.   The Yakima Valley has seen three fires in the past week.  Why is fire activity heating up as the weather cools down?

Using wood or gas to warm your house adds extra dangers.  Even something like running your car to warm it up could cause a fire.  That's what happened this morning, when a fire in West Valley causes thousands of dollars in damages.

William Wamdsganss was getting ready to drive his motor home to Spokane, but something went wrong as he was warming it up.

" I don't know if it backfired or what," Wamdsganss said.  "I saw smoke coming out from under the motor compartment and ran in the house to get a fire extinguisher and call the fire department."

The fire quickly spread to a garage. Firefighters arrived before it could go any further.

"The strategy was save the house," Chief Dave Leitch, West Valley Fire Department, said.  "That's the next area the fire was headed."

They later found out that the carburetor caused the fire.  Running the RV for too long might be why.

"I got in it and started it up and ran it for about a half-hour," Wamdsganss said.

Leitch thinks cold weather leads people to use some dangerous methods to keep warm.

"We're going to be on high alert starting Saturday morning. You really need to be careful with the way you heat to stay warm during these cold spells."

Clean your chimneys and make sure a screen keeps sparks from jumping out.  Do not dump ashes near buildings.  They often are not completely out.

Do not run equipment that uses oil indoors.  Two people died in Sunnyside last week from carbon monoxide poison.

"Never use a gas appliance inside," Leitch said.  "They need to be ventilated outside."

People in mobile homes or RV's need to be extra careful.

"Once it starts they are susceptible to a tighter fire spread just because of the construction methods," Leitch said.