LEBANON — The Lebanon Fire District responded to three unrelated fires in 22 hours this week.
None of the fires caused injuries or serious damage, and none were related to space heaters, a common suspect when the first cold snaps hits. But firefighter are still reminding residents to observe basic safety measures, especially as nighttime lows are expected to remain in the 20s through Monday.
Battalion Chief Ken Savage said the district responded to two fires within a few hours of each other Thursday. The first was reported about 1:30 a.m. at a home at 495 Angelee Court, where a fire had started in the wooden enclosure around the chimney.
Savage said a resident woke up and thought he smelled smoke. He checked the woodstove and saw embers in a stove vent that prompted him to look at the chimney enclosure.
Firefighters were able to contain the fire within the chimney enclosure and keep it from spreading to the living quarters. Savage said he estimates damage at about $12,000 and said the family has insurance. The home was able to be reoccupied after the blaze was out.
The second fire broke out at 4:33 a.m. in a layer of straw in a barn at 4595 Santiam Highway. The straw was wet enough that the flames never got high enough to catch the wood of the structure and there was no significant damage, Savage said. It's unclear how that fire started.
Firefighters also responded early Wednesday morning to a stove fire at Kevin's Cafe, 40 W. Sherman St. The investigation determined that grease had been built up beneath the gas burners, which ignited when the burners were lit.
In an earlier report, Lebanon Fire Division Chief Jason Bolen said it is critical for commercial kitchens to properly maintain fire suppression systems and have hoods professionally cleaned on a regular basis.
Savage said the fire in the chimney enclosure on Angelee Court appeared to have been caused by a fault in the flue that wasn't evident on inspection. However, he said, it's a good reminder to residents to keep flues clean, and added the fire district has brushes to loan at its station at 1050 W. Oak St.
Firefighters have not responded recently to any fires caused by combustible items placed too close to a space heater. However, Savage said it's a good time to remind people to keep areas clear around any source of heat.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International suggests at least three feet of clear space between combustibles and space heaters. It also suggests inspecting heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections, plugging space heaters directly into wall sources rather than extension cords, and turning off and unplugging heaters when going to sleep or leaving a room.