'This is an abnormal amount': Milwaukee Fire Department responds to more than 50 fires in January

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- It has been an extremely busy month for the Milwaukee Fire Department after averaging more than two fires a day.

The department responded to more than 50 calls this month. Deputy Chief Erich Roden said this is one of the worst seasons he has ever seen.

"The cold is challenging, but we don't miss a beat with it. We make sure that we're ready for it," Roden said.

Thirty-four out of the more than 50 fires have required an extended amount of time to put out for Milwaukee firefighters.

"A lot of these fires have also gone to greater alarms, second alarms and above, fires we've had to call extra resources," Roden said.

Roden speculates the increase may be caused by more people spending time at home during the pandemic. He said some of these fires started from space heaters.

"Let me be blunt, we suffer abject poverty in many areas of the city. We see that in the winter time, residents kind of resorting to unconventional means to heat their homes," he said.

He recommends getting rid of any space heater that does not have tip-over protection. Never try to heat your home with a stove, either.

"Contact We Energies gas, they have programs for people that have trouble paying their bills. Very, very unsafe," Roden said.

Vacant homes and buildings are also a hazard since they are susceptible to squatters. Roden said to notify the police if you see anything going on inside one.

"Obviously they want to get out of the elements, too, and will resort to unconventional heating methods, fire pits," he said.

Every home should have a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector.

If you need one, call the smoke detector hotline at 414-289-8980. The hotline is open 24/7 and someone will come install one for you for free.

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