In the city, cold can start fires

More New Yorkers went without heat this winter, requiring them to buy space heaters, which can cause deadly fires.

Since October, 172,062 city residents filed heat complaints — nearly 3,000 more than last year, according to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

As a result, he said, more people are filling the void with space heaters, which an FDNY spokesman said caused 25 to 30 fires in 2010. A Feb. 11 blaze sparked by a space heater killed a 70-year-old woman in Brownsville.

“We all think twice about whether we left the stove on or an iron plugged in,” de Blasio said. “We need to treat space heaters the same way.”

Yesterday, the Council passed a bill to increase the penalties for landlords who don’t provide heat.

If you need to buy a space heater, be sure to purchase one with automatic turnoff, de Blasio warned.

“I make sure to unplug it and make sure that everything is safe,” says Gloria Nieves, who bought a space heater when her Queens landlord didn’t turn on the heat. “It’s not easy to live that life.”



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