Fire officials are advising residents to be careful with space heaters after one of them damaged an Auburn Street home.
An electric space heater overheated wires and caused a fire at 93 Auburn St. late Tuesday night. It was the city’s first reported space-heater fire of the cold-weather season.
The lone occupant, who was asleep on the second floor, escaped after being awakened by smoke detectors, said Lt. Edward Williams of fire prevention.
The fire was reported at 11:58 p.m. at a house owned by Mayra Box, who was not home at the time, Williams reported.
Responding firefighters found fire showing from the front of the building when they arrived.
The fire started when an electric heater caused old wiring inside a wall to overheat, he said in a prepared release. The wires had cellulose insulation, which is not recommended, according to Williams.
He said gas to the house had been shut off, leading the occupants to use portable electric heaters.
“Electric heaters pull a large amount of electricity and cause wires to become very hot,” he said. “Older wiring in houses has a very hard time supporting electric heaters.”
Damage to the house was estimated at $10,000.
As cold weather arrives, the Fire Department advised caution in using space heaters, which are not designed to heat whole houses. According to the state fire marshal’s office:
61 space heater fires were reported between 2003 and 2007 in Massachusetts.
The 61 fires caused six civilian deaths, 10 civilian injuries, 14 fire service injuries and $3 million in losses.
Thirty percent of the fires were caused when combustible materials — bedding, magazines, newspapers, clothing or furniture — were too close to the heater.
Another 8 percent were caused when rugs, carpets or mats were under or too close to the heater.