Investigators are fanning out across the county to try to determine the causes of these fires. In at least one of the fires, the family was saved by their smoke detectors. A fire started in the living room and when the detectors sounded, smoke was rapidly filling the house. The family awoke and had to go through heavy smoke conditions to escape. At this time there are no reported serious injuries.
In addition, Harris County firefighters have been kept busy responding to 19 fire calls within a 48-hour period. While several have been false alarms, others have been more serious.
A fire on January 7 in the 900 block of Cypress Station Drive severely damaged an apartment building. It also caused several north Harris County families to be displaced.
Another fire that same day claimed the lives of two people in the 800 block of Elsbeth in east Harris County. Identity of the victims is being withheld pending a report from the Medical Examiner's Office. Cause of this fire is still under investigation.
"Our personnel are working closely with all fire departments to investigate the origin and cause of these fires," said Fire Marshal Mike Montgomery. "With this extended cold snap, people are unfamiliar with the precautions using supplemental heat sources. This was the case where firefighters discovered the homeowner forgot to open the fireplace damper," he said.
Montgomery recommends some quick and easy fire safety precautions:
The number one recommendation is to have working smoke detectors in your home. In at least one of the Montgomery County fires, the detector batteries had been removed recently and not replaced because the detectors were beeping.