Nick McWilliams reporting – Coming out of an uncharacteristically cold Christmas weekend, the state of Ohio saw record-setting numbers of fatal fires.

Fires have occurred for a variety of reasons, with some, including one in Newcomerstown that claimed the lives of a family of six, being attributed to supplemental heat sources.

Ohio Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon said that the weekend left first responders with heavy hearts, and necessitates a reminder to remain safe and vigilant, with a new high reached in lives claimed due to fire.

“In terms of the total number of fires for fatalities in the state of Ohio, we have set a record year, exceeding the last high period of time in 2013. This year, we’ve had a total of 151 people die in fires in Ohio.”

An additional fire, reported Tuesday afternoon on Front Avenue in New Philadelphia, resulted in damage to the home, and was believed to have started due to the family using alternative heat devices.

Supplemental heat sources are to blame in multiple fatalities this year, which officials have said must be used properly, such as keeping any heat source at least three feet away from combustible materials, and never using certain items such as “torpedo” heaters in an enclosed environment.

Other fires were reported over the weekend which proved to be deadly, with blazes in Darke, Medina, Stark, and Columbiana Counties leading to once fatality each. The Stark County fire is believed to have been set intentionally.

Fire Prevention Bureau Assistant Chief Anita Metheny says that another driving force behind fires this year relates to smoking cigarettes.

“We are finding a large number of people — over 20 people — have perished this year alone by smoking while on oxygen. And if you are going to smoke while on oxygen, turn the oxygen tank off. Take the oxygen off your face, leave it off for at least five to 10 minutes.”

New Philadelphia Fire Chief Jim Parrish noted following the Tuesday fire on Front Avenue that it remains imperative to have working smoke detectors in place, which can prevent tragic outcomes.

Smoke detectors are available, free of charge, through the New Phila Fire Department.

As for more information on fire prevention, and to read all fire codes in the state, visit

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