House fires across the state have claimed 16 lives since Christmas. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning tells KEEL News many of these deaths are a directly related to the freezing temps we've been having. He says space heaters are the cause of many of these fires.

"If you have a space heater, you turn it off and you unplug it at bedtime.  Many of these fires are occurring while people are sleeping and they're not afforded the opportunity to wake up and defend themselves."
There seems to be a common theme in the use of space heaters. Browning says due to the high amount of energy they use, they can become a fire hazard.
"The space heater is plugged in it's drawing so much power and it's overheating the wiring and the fire is actually occurring in the wiring to the space heater, not necessarily the space heater."
One of the fatalities was an 88-year-old woman in Frierson.
Browning cautions about another problem: the use of extension cords. He says under no circumstances should they be used with an electrical heater. Some homes just can’t handle the extra generated current.
 "Some of these older homes, the electrical systems are not as robust, their tolerance is very small, so they'll fail.  Any typically when you have an overheating situation, trying to take more electricity than they can give you, points can fail."