A resident of 2267 Shippan Ave. in Stamford threw Yule log, which burned in the Badger family's fireplace Christmas Eve, into "a trash enclosure or a mudroom on the first floor" at around 3 a.m. Christmas Day, Stamford fire marshals told .
Within two hours a "wood ember" ignited and a fire broke out in the home, killing Madonna Badger's parents and her three children, reported. She and her friend Michael Borcina escaped, according to Stamford Patch.
In light of the tragedy, here are some fire safety tips to keep in mind this winter and during the close of the holiday season.
- One question Avon Fire Marshal James DiPace is frequently asked is whether fireworks are permitted in Avon. This is particularly relevant with New Year's Eve approaching. Sparklers and fountains are legal in Connecticut and can only be purchased, sold or used by people 16 or older. Anyone younger needs to be supervised by an adult. All other fireworks are prohibited by state law.
This state of Connecticut Fire Marshal's Offices sent out a press release in December 2008 with the following holiday fire safety tips.
- Natural Christmas trees should only be kept inside as long as they are fresh. Check the amount of water in your tree stand every day and give your tree new water when needed. If you tree is very dry and shedding a lot of needles, remove it from your home.
- The state fire marshal also advises against stationing your tree near a heat source, like heaters, fireplaces, stoves, television sets and chandles.
- Some common causes of fire during the holidays are "overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires," according to the state fire marshal, as many people have holiday light displays up. Make sure you don't have too many plugs in one outlet and use power strips when necessary, according to the state fire marshal. Any worn-out chords should be replaced.
- Electrical lighting sources should be in good condition and the equipment should have been tested by a recognized lab, with the purpose of the lights labeled, the fire marshal wrote in the 2008 press release.
- All lights should be turned off when the home residents are asleep or away, according to the release.
The town of Avon Fire Marshal's Office has additional fire prevention tips posted on the town website. Here are some of the highlights.
- Make sure your kerosene heater is in good condition and does not have carbon buildup at the exhaust.
- The heater should have emergency shutoff in the event it is knocked over.
- Rooms should be properly ventilated if any fuel is going to be burned in them. That will also prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
- Don't fill the heater when it is operating or hot. It should only be refueled outside.
Fireplaces and Woodstoves
These tips also come from the town of Avon Fire Marshal's Office.
- The Avon Fire Marshal's Office advises having your chimney inspected annually and cleaned as needed.
- Don't use flammable liquids to fuel the fire.
- Having a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace will prevent embers from shooting out into the room.
- Woodstoves should burn for 15 to 30 minutes every day to reduce creosate buildup.
- Don't burn charcoal indoors because it can give off "lethal amounts of carbon monoxide."
- All flammable materials should be kept away from the fireplace.
- Make sure the fire is out before you go to bed. Don't close the damper when there are hot ashes inside the fireplace. If the damper is closed, the fire could start up again and spread carbon monoxide into the house.
- Follow directions when using a synthetic log and do not break it apart or use more than a log at a time because they tend to burn unevenly and let off carbon monoxide.
Here are further tips from the town Fire Marshal's office.
- If you chimney has cracks or loose bricks, a mason needs to seal them. The flue pipes and seams should not have any cracks either
- Keep trash and combustible items away from your heating system.
- If the walls near your furnace are discolored or hot, additional pipe insulation might be needed.
- Makes sure your furnace is still in good condition. If it needs repair, hire a specialist.
- Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home, the town of Avon Fire Marshal's Office posted on the town website. Bring them outside in a metal container, far from the house.
- Be careful not to overload the circuit if you use electrical heaters, the town Fire Marshal's Office warns.
- Avoid using electrical space heaters in the bathroom or other areas close to water, according to the town's fire safety tips.
- If you have a hydrant on your property, you are required by Avon town ordinance to keep it clear of any snow or blockage so that firefighters can access it easily in the event of an emergency.
- Practice an escape route. If windows are your emergency exit, make sure they open easily, the town Fire Marshal's Office advises.