Baseboard Heater Blamed for Fatal Maryland Fire

2 recent fires have been linked to baseboard heaters

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|  Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013  |  Updated 7:10 AM EDT
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The cause of two recent fires in Maryland have been identified. Drapes were too close to a baseboard heater in the case of a Myersville fire that killed two small girls.

Darcy Spencer

The cause of two recent fires in Maryland have been identified. Drapes were too close to a baseboard heater in the case of a Myersville fire that killed two small girls.

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Fire officials say two recent fires in Maryland have been linked to baseboard heaters, including a blaze that killed two young sisters last month.

A Jan. 31 fire in Myersville killed 6-year-old Sophie Lillard and 3-year-old Madigan Lillard, and injured their parents and two other sisters.

Investigators say the fast-moving blaze began when drapes came in contact with a baseboard heater that was behind a couch in the first-floor living room.

They ruled the cause of the fire an accident.

Another recent fire was also linked to baseboard heaters after an Acokeek family lost their home Saturday. Everyone was able to escape safely, but the family's blind dog had to be rescued.

"Baseboard heat in the bedroom," said homeowner Pat Ellis. "I have some firemen here today cleaning out the house, and they were looking at it and they said, 'You can see it right here, where it sparked'."

Investigators told News4's Darcy Spencer that baseboard heaters are usually a safe way to heat homes, since they operate on electricity -- but just like space heaters, if something gets near the heating elements inside, they could catch fire.

Those with baseboard heaters in their homes should make sure they're at a safe distance from anything else.

"You need to keep the electric baseboard heater at least 8 to 12 inches away from anything combustible like draperies or furniture," said Mark Brady of the Prince George's County Fire Department.

Fire officials also noted that neither home had working smoke detectors.

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