SAN ANTONIO - The cold weather is causing fire concerns for San Antonio firefighters and that's why they're urging folks to follow simple safety measures to protect you and your family.

  • Firefighters see uptick in blazes during cold weather
  • Firefighters warn about space heater use 
  • There are several home heating safety tips to keep in mind

"We do see a rise in fires when it's colder out," said San Antonio Fire Department Public Information Officer and firefighter Joe Arrington.

Arrington says fire can happen anytime, anywhere.

"Whether that be something in your home or something like the homeless in an abandoned building sometimes starting warming fires," he said.

Friday morning crews battled a blaze at a vacant building just north of downtown.

"Significant amount of damage done to the building and some of the buildings adjacent to it, but an absolute maze, an absolute dangerous block," said San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood.

The abandoned building was often used as a haunted house during Halloween.

"We found no victims. A lot of times in a situation like this when it's very cold, we get a lot of homeless that potentially start warming fires," Hood said. 

"If you see someone struggling, show them their options whether it be Haven for Hope or any of the other local shelters that open up if they have an option other than sleeping outside," Arrington said.

Along with fires like this, firefighters say space heaters can be dangerous.

"The key is to never leave them unoccupied. Never leave them on when you're sleeping or in another room. Even if you're just going to the other room, turn it off and always try to unplug it if you can as well," Arrington said.

Other Safety Tips from SAFD:

  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.  
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, or dry clothing thaw pipes.
  • Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire, and unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.

Other home heating safety tips to remember:

  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month
  • Install and maintain CO (carbon monoxide) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-safe zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.