Nov. 27, 2018, was a terrible day for the Logansport community. Four children — 3-year-old Swayze Hite; 1-year-old Rhylie Hite; 3-month-old Marshall Hite; their mother, Brandi Hite; 10-year-old KaDee Huddleston, and her father, Joseph, were killed in a house fire.

According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, 93 Hoosiers died in fires in Indiana in 2018, an increase of 21 over the previous year. And nationally, 19% of all house fires occur during the months of December, January and February.

Home fires are the biggest disaster threat Americans face, the Red Cross says. Improper use of alternate heaters increases that threat as people turn to other ways to heat their homes when the temperatures drop.

WFFT-TV, Fort Wayne, reported a man’s death early last month after a house fire. The Fort Wayne Fire Department told the station it was the third major fire of the week.

Deputy Chief Adam O’Connor said these fires are all too common.

“Every year at this time we see an uptick in what we would call ‘natural fires’,” Fort Wayne Deputy Fire Chief Adam O’Connor said. He was referring to the use of alternative heat sources like kerosene and electric heaters.

Many people use alternate sources of heat to cut down on heating bills. If your family is among that group, the Red Cross offers these tips:

• Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least 3 feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.

• Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.

• Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

Former State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson said there were no smoke alarms in the home of the fatal Logansport fire. This much is clear: Fires can be deadly.

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