Are we seeing more house fires than usual? Lincoln Fire Chief says all is normal

It seems as though we've been seeing a rash of house and apartment fires, but Chief Engler says it's about average.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – At the dawn of the month, we saw nine house fires across the state in one weekend. A few days before that, another fire in North Lincoln did hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage. On April 29th, two fires hit houses, one early in the day, the next one was just before noon. Then another home was damaged the next day. From April 6th to May 1st, LFR responded to a total of ten structure fires. It certainly seems like a lot, but is it really a freak rash of fires?

According to Lincoln Fire Chief David Engler, it’s not entirely unexpected: “It is a little bit strange that we actually had so many in such a short amount of time, but we do see a little bit of an uptick in fires at this time of the year.”

Chief Engler attributes the seasonal rise in fires to the changes in weather. It’s warmer, drawing people outdoors, but it’s still a little cold,  pushing them to heat things up a bit. Sometimes, they do that in unsafe ways. “Unfortunately, all of these fires, while they’re not related to each other, the one thing that is related is that they’re all preventable”, said Engler.

Lincoln’s fire code has specific rules in place for how to have a safe fire. Any recreational fire has a size limit, and needs to be kept at least 25 feet away from a building or structure, or anything else that could pose a fire hazard. Portable fire pits can be a bit closer, at 15 feet. Either way, somebody needs to be watching the fire at all times, and there needs to be a way to put the fire out. That can be an extinguisher, a hose, or even sand.

Chief Engler says although sometimes it may seem like LFR is responding to a certain type of fire in spurts, it’s essentially random. By year’s end, LFR will respond to an average of 125 to 150 structure fires. Engler is hopeful, though, saying, “I just ask that people be really cautious with these things and help us prevent fires, and maybe we can get that number down this year.”

Categories: Midday Interviews, News