Fires spark from heaters

Home heaters were blamed for two separate fires Tuesday, according to Laguna Beach firefighters.

The first blaze was reported at 8:26 a.m. at a two-story apartment in the 200 block of Cliff Drive. There was no one in the unit. A neighbor who heard a smoke alarm and smelled smoke called 911, according to spokesman and Fire Dept. Division Chief Dan Stefano. That fire was quickly put out by firefighters, who determined that it was caused by a floor mat and a couch sitting on top of a floor furnace vent.

Later that day, firefighters were called to a two-level home near Eighth Avenue and Ivy Lane by an occupant who was alerted by a smoke alarm. In this case, clothing placed next to an electric wall heater caught fire, Stefano said. The fire had spread to the inside of the wall before firefighters were able to stop it.

"It is apparent that the sequence of smoke alarm activation, immediate 911 notification and highly effective firefighting mitigated extensive property damage and, very likely, may have even saved some lives," Stefano said.

No injuries were reported in either incident. Property damage at the Cliff home was estimated at between $5,000 and $10,000. Damage to the South Laguna home is believed to be about $1,000, Stefano said.

Stefano said the fires are a reminder to make sure smoke detectors are working and to move combustible items away from heaters.

"The Laguna Beach Fire Department strongly encourages everyone in the community to make sure that working smoke detectors are appropriately installed throughout your home," Stefano said. "Additionally, with colder weather setting in, it is imperative that you do not place rugs, furniture or combustible items on top of, adjacent to or within three feet of any type of home heating device."

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