Heating season brings spate of fatalities

Five people died in fires during a single 24-hour period from Thursday to Friday morning, and one firefighter was injured as sub-zero temperatures saw heating systems cranked up and a resulting rise in call-outs for fire crews.

In all firefighters received 42 callouts within a day, putting out 23 fires, performing 10 rescues and being thwarted by 9 false alarms.

Two bodies were recovered from an inferno in a house on Viksnas street, Jelgava while three perished in another blaze at Jelgavas street in Riga.

One man saved from the Riga fire was taken to hospital along with a firefighter injured during the rescue effort.

With freezing temperatures likely to be in place for most of next week, firefighters are reminding people to take six basic precautions to protect their homes and families:

1 Cut grass around the house to help prevent grass fires that could spread. This year 6,818 hectares of Latvian territory and 88 houses were destroyed by grass fires. 

2 Regularly clean chimneys. Firefighters have been called to chimney fires around 500 times in the last year. Sparks from the chimney can easily ignite roofs and outbuildings.

3 Fit smoke detectors. They are not expensive and could save your lifeAn smoke detector is a small device in case of fire can save your life. Tragic fires usually occur at night when people are asleep and do not notice the fire. Smoke detector with a high-pitched signal sufficient advance notice of the fire, thus saving you and your immediate life and reducing the damage caused by the fire. 

4 Check the state of your heating system. Again, your local chimney sweep can offer valuable help and advice. Poorly maintained heating systems have already destroyed 40 houses this year. 

5 Check the condition of electric and gas heaters. Heaters that have been stored for months will have gathered dust, which is a potential hazard. Check electrical cables and connections too.  

6 Remind everyone in the house how to safely use heating appliances and what to do in the case of an emergency. Never place clothes directly onto a heating appliance, dont keep wood next to an open fire - and above all remember that in an emergency the number to call for the fire service is 112.

END

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