Township firefighters responded to a home in the 13800 block of 168th Avenue at 5:19 a.m. when the homeowner reported a light haze of smoke in the house. After a half-hour investigation, firefighters determined the home's furnace had malfunctioned, Fire Chief Tom Gerencer said.
“When we found it, we turned it off and left,” he said.
At 10:51 a.m., a renter reported heavy black smoke in her home at 14533 Lake Michigan Drive.
“We came back from town and the smoke alarms were going off,” Trish Vanderstelt said. “It smelled really bad.”
She evacuated the house with her daughter and dog, and called 911.
Township firefighters found a space heater had malfunctioned in the home. They cleared out the smoke and were gone before noon.
“As the temperature drops, the fire department urges citizens to be careful and follow some simple safety tips when using space heaters and other supplemental heating sources,” Gerencer said. “Any shift away from the exclusive use of central heating presents an increased possibility of fire.”
Gerencer also offered these safety tips:
— Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system. Space heaters need space.
— Be sure not to overload the circuit when a space heater is being used.
— Make sure children don’t knock over the space heater, or stick paper or toys in its grates.
— Have your furnace inspected annually to ensure that it is in good working condition.