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Space heater safety tips

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AMARILLO - A backyard shed and its contents are now ashes after a space heater sparked flames early Tuesday morning.
 
It happened on Dahlia street in Amarillo. Officials say a person was living in the shed and had a space heater right next to a bed.

When used correctly, space heaters can be used to keep a room warm without charging up an outrageous bill to heat an entire home.

But according to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment causes more than 50,000 house fires across the nation each year, and those caused by space heaters are most often deadly because they frequently happen when people are asleep.

"Never leave a space heater unattended. So if you leave the room and the space heater's on, make sure you turn it off. If you go to bed at night, make sure you turn it off," said Amarillo Fire Department Lieutenant David Kouba.

The Amarillo Fire Department has only responded to two space heater-related fires since December. One of them left a family of 13 homeless.

Fire officials say the best way to avoid a space heater fire is to make sure your heater is at least three feet away from anything that can be flammable, do not use extension cords on space heaters, and make sure it has the latest recognized safety labels such as UL or ETL.

"You never want to use it for what it's not intended to be used and it's intended to be used for a small space, to heat up that small space temporarily," said Koube.

You can check to see if your space heater has been recalled for safety issues on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website, or find a recommended one from Consumer Reports.