Smoke detector saves house

Faulty wall heater nearly catches fire in Hood River home

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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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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