SAN ANTONIO - The space heater that Steven Martinez said was normally used to heat his uncle's room is suspected of causing a fire that destroyed the family's East Side home early Saturday morning.
"It's supposed to be helping you out," Martinez said. "And all of a sudden, it can be your worst enemy."
Martinez, who lived in the 600 block of East Carson Street with his grandparents and uncle, who is disabled, was getting ready for bed when he heard someone yell "fire." When he went to his uncle's room on the first floor, he found some curtains by the heater on fire as well as the ceiling.
He was able to get his uncle, who was passed out on the floor, outside, but the house was destroyed in the flames.
It's not just Martinez's family who has seen the dangers space heaters pose.
"So far in 2019, we've seen four, maybe five, house fires related to space heaters," said San Antonio Fire Department spokesman Joe Arrington. He said the fires have been in homes and outbuildings. "If you need to use a space heater, you know, go for it. But be vigilant about how you use it."
SAFD recommends the following safety tips:
- Ensure the heater isn't damaged or has a frayed cord.
- Do NOT put it on top of anything flammable (i.e., cabinets or carpets).
- Keep heater at least 3 feet from anything else.
- Plug it directly into a wall outlet.
- Do NOT plug it into extension cords or power strips.
- Turn off and unplug the heater when you leave the room.
Martinez's home may be gone, but he said everyone got out safely.
As for dealing with space heaters in the future, he said, he's going to "stay away from them for right now, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to buy one because it's starting to get real cold."
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