CHICO, Calif. -- This holiday season, public safety and emergency response agencies are reminding everyone to take caution in making sure your celebrations don't turn into a disaster. And the focus is specifically on house fires.
They are more common than you might think.
A number of recent fires in Chico highlight that fact. On November 16, 2020, a house fire caused significant damage to a home. It is believed the cause was related to a clothes dryer.
On October 29, 2020, another fire in Chico resulted in the death of one person.
Data from the National Fire Protection Association indicates there is a home fire every 93 seconds in the United States, causing $14.8 billion dollars in property damage and thirty-seven hundred deaths.
If a fire does happen, an agency that is perhaps better known for responding to massive natural disasters arrives on scenes almost as quickly as first responders.
Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough talked with the Executive Director for the Northern California chapter of the American Red Cross.
Nuriddin Ziyadinov says the agency focuses much of its volunteer response on those facing a house fire emergency.
“We have a strong relationship with local fire departments and local emergency managers,” explains Ziyadinov. “That's one of the backbones of our response. And when there is a fire and whenever there is an incident commander at the fire, they call us; they call our dispatch and we receive the call right away.”
Ziyadinov says regardless of what day or night dispatch receives that call, a volunteer is sent to the scene to assist a homeowner facing a fire emergency.
The American Red Cross on average, offers $600 in emergency funds to fire victims. The agency responds to more than 60-thousand disasters a year, with the majority being house fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, some of the most common causes for house fires include, home cooking, candles, heating equipment, electrical malfunctions, and washing and/or clothes dryers.
Yarbough also reached out to the Chico Fire Department to ask about the prevalence of house fires in the City. A Deputy Chief says the department has responded to 26 structure fires this year alone.
He says the department typically sees an increase in structure fires this time of year. The uptick in calls is attributed to colder weather. That’s when more people are using fireplaces, heaters, or other small appliances.
The Deputy Chief says the department routinely relies on help from the American Red Cross to help families who are fire victims; assisting in finding temporary lodging. He calls it an ‘invaluable’ resource.