Local fire departments talk rise in residential fires

This Dec. 31, 2017 photo shows firefighters at the scene of a fire at an apartment complex on Willow Lake Circle. More than a dozen people were displaced in the fire. Investigators said they believed the fire was caused by careless disposal of smoking materials. (Photo courtesy: Virginia Beach Fire Department.)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Leaders of local fire departments held a joint news conference Thursday to talk about the rise in residential fires.

Fire departments are calling for a “Safety Stand-Down” day to be held on Saturday. Residents are being asked to check their habits and homes to make sure they are taking steps to prevent fires.

Related: Over a dozen displaced from Virginia Beach apartment fire

Officials say there has been a rise in fires over the last three months — some of which have been fatal.

“We’ve got a very serious problem here and we’re concerned about it,” said Art Kohn, Virginia Beach Fire Department’s public information officer

“It started last year with the inclement weather we had, a lot of people were trying to stay warm just doing some things they normally wouldn’t do,” added Norfolk Fire Rescue PIO Damon Langley.

Langley says people have been using stoves and propane heaters, but being careless has led to them starting fires.

“We thought it was important to come together and come out and let people know what we’re seeing here and how dramatic the increase has been,” said Kohn.

Most of the fires have been caused by heating equipment, cooking, or careless smoking, according to officials.

Related: 1 dead, 5 displaced in Norfolk apartment fire

“That’s what we’re hoping to do, raise awareness so people will take a look at what they’re doing, take a look at their habits, take a look at their home and make sure they’re doing everything they can to prevent a fire,” Kohn explained.