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Fire chief: Early year fires highlight need for safety measures

By Staff | Jan 17, 2020

The new year brought tragedy to two central North Dakota families last week as house fires left adults and children homeless in Rugby and caused injuries and death in McClusky.

Last Monday evening in Rugby, Tara Johnson-Dupuis, her mother, Kay Johnson, her boyfriend, Kris Broe and her four children were left homeless after their residence on Second Street Northwest burned.

Two days later, a McClusky child died in a house fire and the child’s family suffered burns requiring hospitalization at a St. Paul, Minn., burn center, according to North Dakota news reports.

Rugby Volunteer Fire Department Chief David Schneibel told the Tribune the number of house fires can spike upward in winter.

“There are (more house fires) because of the heating appliances and a lot of the individuals using space heaters are a major concern,” Schneibel said.

“One of the major things (to prevent winter house fires) is having your heating system serviced every year before you turn it on for the winter,” Schneibel noted. He also said chimney cleaning is especially important.

“Another thing,” Schneibel added, “Limit your use of space heaters. Part of (the problem) is people don’t use them correctly, or they’re just placing them too close to other items in the house. Another problem with them is people plug them into extension cords. Extension cords usually aren’t rated to carry that kind of energy, so that’ll cause them to short out or cause the outlets to have problems.”

Servicing heating systems and limiting the use of space heaters “are really the two main things as far as preventing house fires,” Schneibel said.

Schneibel mentioned another cause of fires.

“I don’t know that we have a major problem with this in Rugby, but in certain places, individuals use their ovens to heat part of their house. They just turn it on and open the door and use that as a heating source. That’s never a good idea.”

Schneibel said having both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in homes is crucial for home safety.

Many insurance carriers give homeowners discounts on their policies for having working fire extinguishers in their homes as well.

Plans of action are also important in case fire breaks out.

“Families should have an exit plan long before they ever smell smoke,” Schneibel said. “That was one of the keys during Fire Prevention Week this year.”

“Once they do smell smoke, they need to evacuate the house and call 911,” Schneibel said. “People need to evacuate the home before they call 911.

Schneibel stressed leaving a burning home before calling for help because of how quickly fires spread.

According to ready.gov, a small fire can spread to a major blaze in about 30 seconds.

Schneibel said the Rugby blaze was “the first one we’ve had for a couple of years now, a major one like this. I wouldn’t say house fires in Rugby are very common, but they do happen and people just need to be prepared.”

The North Dakota Fire Marshal’s office is investigating both the Rugby and McClusky fires, according to Schneibel and North Dakota news outlets.

Additionally, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the McClusky fire, although no foul play is suspected, according to media reports.

A fund has been established for the Johnson-Dupuis fire in Rugby at North Star Community Credit Union.

Contributions to help the victims of the McClusky fire may be made at any American Banking Center location to the Feibelkorn benefit account, according to N.D. media reports.

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Fire chief: Early year fires highlight need for safety measures

By Staff | Jan 17, 2020

The new year brought tragedy to two central North Dakota families last week as house fires left adults and children homeless in Rugby and caused injuries and death in McClusky.

Last Monday evening in Rugby, Tara Johnson-Dupuis, her mother, Kay Johnson, her boyfriend, Kris Broe and her four children were left homeless after their residence on Second Street Northwest burned.

Two days later, a McClusky child died in a house fire and the child’s family suffered burns requiring hospitalization at a St. Paul, Minn., burn center, according to North Dakota news reports.

Rugby Volunteer Fire Department Chief David Schneibel told the Tribune the number of house fires can spike upward in winter.

“There are (more house fires) because of the heating appliances and a lot of the individuals using space heaters are a major concern,” Schneibel said.

“One of the major things (to prevent winter house fires) is having your heating system serviced every year before you turn it on for the winter,” Schneibel noted. He also said chimney cleaning is especially important.

“Another thing,” Schneibel added, “Limit your use of space heaters. Part of (the problem) is people don’t use them correctly, or they’re just placing them too close to other items in the house. Another problem with them is people plug them into extension cords. Extension cords usually aren’t rated to carry that kind of energy, so that’ll cause them to short out or cause the outlets to have problems.”

Servicing heating systems and limiting the use of space heaters “are really the two main things as far as preventing house fires,” Schneibel said.

Schneibel mentioned another cause of fires.

“I don’t know that we have a major problem with this in Rugby, but in certain places, individuals use their ovens to heat part of their house. They just turn it on and open the door and use that as a heating source. That’s never a good idea.”

Schneibel said having both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in homes is crucial for home safety.

Many insurance carriers give homeowners discounts on their policies for having working fire extinguishers in their homes as well.

Plans of action are also important in case fire breaks out.

“Families should have an exit plan long before they ever smell smoke,” Schneibel said. “That was one of the keys during Fire Prevention Week this year.”

“Once they do smell smoke, they need to evacuate the house and call 911,” Schneibel said. “People need to evacuate the home before they call 911.

Schneibel stressed leaving a burning home before calling for help because of how quickly fires spread.

According to ready.gov, a small fire can spread to a major blaze in about 30 seconds.

Schneibel said the Rugby blaze was “the first one we’ve had for a couple of years now, a major one like this. I wouldn’t say house fires in Rugby are very common, but they do happen and people just need to be prepared.”

The North Dakota Fire Marshal’s office is investigating both the Rugby and McClusky fires, according to Schneibel and North Dakota news outlets.

Additionally, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the McClusky fire, although no foul play is suspected, according to media reports.

A fund has been established for the Johnson-Dupuis fire in Rugby at North Star Community Credit Union.

Contributions to help the victims of the McClusky fire may be made at any American Banking Center location to the Feibelkorn benefit account, according to N.D. media reports.

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