Smoke detector saves house

A faulty wall heater almost started a fire at a Wasco Street house early Sunday morning— but the smoke detector alarm saved the day.

According to reports, resident Daryl Slining was awakened by the warning system shortly after 7 a.m. He then discovered that the sheetrock above the older heater in his living room had been scorched and the coils were making “popping” noises.

“This home had working smoke detectors that alerted the occupant and possibly saved a life,” said Hood River Fire Marshal Devon Wells.

Slining, who had gone back to bed after turning the heater on just 10 minutes earlier, then called the Hood River Fire Department for help. Wells said there was no fire damage to the home but the Cadet model heater was removed for a thorough examination.

Wells said the heater is more than 20 years old and the problem could have been caused by age since it is not on any recall lists. However, he is consulting with the manufacturer about the damage in case there have been other reported problems which merit further investigation from the company or the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Last year, data compiled by the Oregon State Fire Marshal showed that four percent of house fires are caused by short circuits in a heating source, three percent by items being placed too close to heaters and 11 percent from chimneys.

“We encourage everyone to check their heaters, furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys to ensure they are ready for the winter season,” said Wells.

He said there needs to be three feet of open space around all heat sources and smoke detector batteries should be checked regularly to ensure that the device is working.

“Remember, only working smoke detectors save lives,” Wells said.

Wells invites residents with more questions about fire safety to call his office at 386-3939. Information on equipment recalls is available on the CPSC’s Web site at

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