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Firefighters urge families to avoid kitchen appliances to heat homes

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- These cold temperatures have some families taking desperate measures to stay warm. They are using their stoves as a heater and that can turn dangerous quickly.

Tuesday morning, an Indianapolis family lost everything in a fire started by a stove.

Roaring flames and heavy smoke could be seen for miles.

The family, who was without heat on one of the coldest nights this winter, told firefighters they turned all four of their stove top burners on to stay warm, but within minutes a fire erupted and the house went up in flames.  

Clay Township Fire Department's Fire Marshal David Cherrone says leaving an open flame unattended is always dangerous and should not be done.

"These are meant to, at certain temperatures, cook items. They are not meant to stay on for hours because, again, you cannot see it and it's an open flame," said Cherrone. 

He says that gas stoves often release hazardous by products even if the stove is burning clean with a bright blue flame.

"These are electronic ignitions so we don't have the issue of a pilot light going out, but older models that don't then have the issue that if the valve doesn't close because it's malfunctioning the gas will spreading in [to the house]."  

Cherrone says there are several other options and resources available to make sure your family has heat on cold winter nights.

"Nobody wants anybody to go cold or hungry in the winter time, especially the elderly or the very young."

Utility companies will work with those that cannot afford their gas bill or to repair a broken furnace. He also says there are plenty of other nonprofit organizations through the area ready to assist families in need.

"Those folks can plug you in to other resources so that you can get the heat you need without sacrificing your safety."

If you do need help, it can be as easy as picking up the phone and dialing 2-1-1. The United Way works with families to make sure they have a warm home in these cold temperatures.

That's just one program. For more information about other programs available to you click on one of the links below:

United Way Team Heat Program

Real Services Energy Bill Assistance Program

Canihelp.org

THAW: The heat and Warmth fund

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