Be careful with your heater: Four dead following home fires in cold Johannesburg

Robert Mulaudzi, spokesperson for the Emergency Management Services.

Emergency services are encouraging people to ensure that their heating devices, including gas heaters and candles, are not left unattended during cold weather.

Four people in Johannesburg have lost their lives in two house fires, one of which was positively linked to a gas heater.

The city’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) say they responded to two separate fire incidents on Thursday morning, one in Soweto and another in Weltevredenpark.

Two men lost their lives in the incident in Weltevredenpark, which emergency services believe was caused by a gas heater.

Meanwhile an elderly couple lost their lives in Soweto. The cause of this fire is still under investigation.

Robert Mulaudzi, an EMS spokesman said: “We would like to urge our residents throughout the City of Johannesburg to continue to look after all heating devices like heaters, paraffin stoves, candles, gas heaters and imbaula, especially our residents in informal settlements since we know they are the most vulnerable communities due to the heating devices they are using on a daily basis so that we can prevent devastating fire incidence like the ones we have witnessed this morning.”

He also urged residents to ensure that heating devices are not left unattended during the winter season, and  “to exercise extreme caution when using any heating devices.”

Here are some safety tips when using gas heaters:

  • Check that everything is in order, all components are well connected
  • Ensure that the gas bottle is secured safely and that there are no leaks in the pipes and the regulator is well maintained
  • Look out for warnings of malfunction during use
  • Do not move the heater while in use, this action can result in a gas leak or an explosion
  • Do not place anything over the heater that will cover it or restrict ventilation resulting in a fire

The South African Weather Service meanwhile says things will start warming up by the weekend, but winter temperatures will remain slightly below average.

Johannesburg is expected to see a high of 16 degrees on Saturday, with a low of 3 degrees.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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