Heat lamp fire sparks another chicken tragedy
Twenty chickens died Tuesday morning in a Talent fire caused by a heat lamp, the fifth such fire in Jackson County this year.
The fire started shortly before 11 a.m. in a small enclosure on the front porch of a cabin on the 6500 block of Coleman Creek Road, said Darin Welburn, division Chief for Jackson County Fire District No. 5.
"The homeowner came home after leaving for about 30 minutes and found the flames engulfing the cabin. There was significant loss to that structure," Welburn said.
The flames were started by a heat lamp attached to the enclosure to keep the chickens warm, investigators determined.
A heat lamp used to keep baby quail warm was the likely cause of a fire that destroyed a two-story home on the 12600 block of Dead Indian Memorial Road on Saturday, investigators said, though a cause could not officially be determined because of the extent of damage.
On April 17, a fire on Normal Avenue in Ashland destroyed a chicken coop, killing several chickens inside and damaging a nearby tree.
The next day, a chicken coop fire on the 4100 block of Ditch Creek Road in Rogue River killed several chickens before the owner could extinguish most of the flames with a garden hose. Fire crews put the rest of the fire out.
On March 11, fire crews were able to save a baby goat and its mother after their barn caught on fire on the 500 block of Foss Lane in Talent.
All three of those fires were determined to be caused by a heat lamp. In at least one case, an inadequate extension cord caused the lamp to overheat.
Brian Ballou, fire prevention specialist at Oregon Department of Forestry, offers eight tips to prevent a heat lamp-caused fire:
- Use an Underwriters Laboratory-approved base for the bulb.
- Protect the bulb with a cage.
- Make sure the bulb's wattage isn't higher than what the base is designed to provide (the wattage rating for the base is printed on the switch housing).
- If the lamp is clamped to a chair or a piece of lumber, make sure the lamp can't be easily knocked over or dislodged if an animal or child bumps against it.
- Keep the heat lamp at least 18 inches from flammable material, such as wood shavings, straw, burlap, newspaper or other bedding material.
- Never use an electrical cord with holes or cracks in the insulation.
- Never run the cord through the area where the chicks or animals are penned.
- Have a fire extinguisher near to where the heat lamp is used.
Mandy Valencia is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.