RIPLEY • Ripley Fire Department has responded to four calls this week related to weather, according to Tippah County Assistant Fire Coordinator Jessica Jeter.  

"Two were reports for smoke inside the home. Two were actual house fires due to people trying to thaw frozen water pipes with propane heaters," said Jeter.

Jeter said no other fire departments had reported any weather-related calls as of Thursday, and there has not been an increase in first responder calls.

Dry Creek Deputy Fire Chief Heath Pannell said heaters are a big issue during extended winter weather conditions.

"Low-income families often use whatever they can to heat homes," said Pannell. "Often electric cooking stoves are turned on and left on for heat, several electric heaters in one room, and in extremely dangerous cases, propane camping-style heaters are used indoors. The overload on electrical systems, coupled with clothing, coats, and gloves thrown around after a fun day in the snow, is a recipe for disaster."

Pannell explained that even the most modern central heating systems are stressed and at risk of freezing up in extended cold weather conditions.

"It's important to remember to keep everything at least three feet away from space heaters, and other types of heat sources. Don't let cloth or flammable items lie on central heating vents. Watch plugging multiple heaters into your outlets, and never use an extension cord for an electric heater."

Pannell said local fire departments are rarely equipped for the weather situation Tippah County has faced in the last few days.

"It just doesn't happen often enough around here to budget in chains for fire trucks and plows to clear the roadway. Response to any emergency would be time delayed, and depending on the roadway near year, maybe impossible. Do your part to keep you and your family safe," concluded Pannell.

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