DOI Office of the State Fire Marshal

RALEIGH – North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey is urging North Carolinians to use an extra measure of caution, especially when using portable heaters during the winter season.

Unfortunately, portable heaters can ignite, as one did in Moore County on Feb. 18, where the family escaped but lost their home, according to the N.C. Department of Insurance Office of the State Fire Marshal.

“I’m glad the family escaped their mobile home fire safely, but am saddened that the family lost everything in the blaze,” said Causey, who is also the state fire marshal. “I hope families who use portable heaters will use an extra measure of caution to protect themselves as we get through the winter months.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating is the leading cause of fires in U.S. homes, with nearly 90 percent of home heating fire deaths involving stationary or portable space heaters.

Causey offered these tips for home heating during the winter months:

• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.

• Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

• Never use an oven to heat a home.

• Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

• Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.

• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container, placed on a non-combustible area and stored a safe distance away from the home.

• When using a space heater, always plug it into a wall outlet.

A NCOSFM video showing how fast a portable heater can cause a fire can be found More information about NCOSFM can be found at

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