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Firefighters, Red Cross working to prevent house fires

House fires kept firefighters and volunteers with the Red Cross busy last year. Now, they're working to get ahead of potential tragedies.

STROUD TOWNSHIP, PA — It was a busy year for firefighters at the Stroud Township Volunteer Fire Department. They received more than 550 calls last year, most of which were house fires.

"40% of all house fires are caused in the kitchen or a cooking incident. And from there, it goes down — heating systems, obviously, electrical, kids playing with fire. That is the causes we're seeing," said Stroud Township Fire Chief Bill Unruh.

Chief Unruh says older homes are definitely at a higher risk for fires, so that could be why we are seeing more.

"The main reason is the older electrical systems, the old nob and tube wiring that are in the house. They can't handle what we plug into them today," the chief said. "They built homes with newspaper and sawdust insulation, balloon construction, which makes the fire travel faster vertically throughout the house."

2022 marked one of the busiest years for the American Red Cross Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter's emergency response services.

Sherry Nealon is the executive director.

"Since December of last year, and we'll go to December of this year, we responded to 275 events in our nine-county range. So it makes like 562 cases for us and the number of individuals served is was over 1,400."

Nealon says there are fire prevention steps you can take, including updating and changing the batteries on your smoke detector.

"Our job is to make sure that there also preventions so we're not just saying, 'We're here for you when we want to be here,'" Nealon added. "(Make) sure you have a plan to evacuate your home, making sure that you and your family have acted out in the event of a fire."

The American Red Cross has more information on how to stay safe.

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