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New London — The city's fire inspector said this afternoon that a portable electric heater operating too close to a bed was the reason for the Montauk Avenue fire that displaced 11 people nearly two weeks ago.
Vernon Skau said that the Nov. 17 accident left the house uninhabitable and that the second floor sustained significant damage as a result. There were six adults and five children residing in the home at 70-72 Montauk Ave.
Skau said that more than 1,100 fires occur each year as a result of the portable heaters, which are high-wattage appliances that have the potential to ignite nearby combustible materials.
He suggests that portable space heaters be turned off when a person leaves the room and that an extension cord or power strip should never be used to power a space heater. Space heaters should be placed on level surfaces and located somewhere where it cannot be knocked over.
Residents who need a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm should contact the New London Fire Marshal's Office at (860) 440-6666 or (860) 440-6665.