Lehigh Valley

Space heater to blame for fatal Schwenksville fire

They are deadly fire risks if used incorrectly.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - An unimaginable tragedy was caused by a space heater and extension cord, according to the State Police Fire Marshal.

Authorities say that's what sparked the fire that killed 11-year-old Parker Lukens and his 6-year-old brother Bryan in their Schwenksville home.

"We'll typically have a couple of fires in the winter due to that," begins Captain John Christopher, with the Allentown Fire Department.

He says they respond to space heater fires every year and says, although the problem is frequently blamed on the heater itself, it's more often what the heater is plugged into.

"Anything that heats the room, cools the room should be directly plugged into the outlet - never into a power strip."

But he says the heaters, can be dangerous on their own.

An online Public Service Announcement echoes Captain Christopher's warning about the handy, but sometimes deadly heaters, saying they account for 25,000 home fires every year.

It offers simple safety tips, such as keeping them off counters, putting them on hard, level surfaces, and keeping them far enough away from something around it that could catch fire.

"You want like a halo - we call it a halo, a three foot halo - around that heater," Captain Christopher says.

If you have a heater that's acted up before, Captain Christopher says, don't take any chances.

"That heater should go out of service then, time for a new one."

The tips might seem simple, but fire officials say, they can save lives.

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