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Racine Fire Department was dispatched shortly after 5 p.m. Friday to a house fire at 1500-1/2 Erie Street. Firefighters forced entry to a second floor apartment and encountered moderate heat and heavy smoke conditions.

The fire, which caused an estimated $35,000 in damage, was controlled and extinguished quickly, but not before a firefighter nearly fell through a hole burned in the floor on the second floor area where the fire started. No injuries were reported.

The initial fire investigation indicated the fire may have started from unsafe use of an unattended electric space heater.

The Racine Fire Department reminds the public that when you change the clocks, change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors you should test them to ensure they are working properly.

An RFD spokesman noted that “This fire, the onset of cooler weather and Fire Safety and Prevention Month provide an opportunity to remind everyone that space heaters should be used sparingly and always kept at least 3 feet from things that can burn. When you change the clocks, change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and then test them to ensure they are working properly. Fortunately, no injuries were reported at this fire.”

Smoke alarms by the numbers

According to the National Fire Protection Association:
* In 2009-2013, smoke alarms sounded in more than half (53%) of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.

* Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

* No smoke alarms were present in more than one-third (38%) of the home fire deaths.

* One of every five (21%) of the home fire deaths, smoke alarms were present but did not sound.

* In reported home fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half (46%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.

* Nuisance alarms were the leading reason for disconnected smoke alarms.

Download a free NFPA fact sheet about smoke alarms.

Rex Davenport

Rex Davenport is a reporter, editor and editorial project manager with more than 40 years of experience in newspaper, business magazines and other content channels.