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Yakima fire crews say more houses caught fire during holidays compared to summer last year

Yakima fire crews say more houses caught fire during holidays compared to summer last year

YAKIMA, Wash.- For many, there's nothing more cozy than laying next to your fireplace and putting the finishing touches on your Christmas tree.

But local fire crews say one mistake could have your home in flames.

Numbers from last year show Yakima fire crews dealt with more house fires during the holidays than in the summer time. From April through June of 2017, Yakima fire crews responded to 15 house fires. During the holidays last year, starting from Halloween through the end of December, they handled 22 house fires.

During this time of year, Yakima fire crews say more people stay inside and usually end up being there during a time of a fire, which they say leads to a higher risk of people dying.

Parker Hanson and Zack Andrilenas over at the East Valley Fire Department have both been firefighters for five years, and say when they respond to fire emergencies in the winter, they see they same mistakes happen. A big one being chimney fires.

"We did see quite an influx of chimney fires around this time of the year because people start up their fire places for the first time and haven't cleaned their chimneys in a while," said Hanson.

Hanson says make sure you have water or a fire extinguisher nearby, and always have your flue is open to make sure smoke is flowing out of your chimney properly.

For space heaters, keep them at least three feet away from your tree or flammable items.

Andrilenas says plugging in too many electrical cords into an extension socket can also turn into a flammable disaster.

"Just this morning actually we went on an electrical fire and that was caused by faulty wiring and too many things leading off of a breaker." said Andrilenas.

Fire crews urge you to spread out where you plug in cords, and before you head to bed, blow out your candles and turn off your Christmas lights and heaters. Andrilenas says at night is when fires usually happen during this time of year.

"This is basically a campfire all in one. If it gets a spark, these pieces of pine will catch almost immediately and the room can be fully engulfed in just a matter of minutes," said Andrilenas.

Fire crews recommend you water your tree every day, and throw your Christmas tree out by the end of month.

Fire crews also urge you to check your smoke alarms and make sure they are working. They say its one of the key tools to save your home and your life.

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