Last week was awful. The news that not one but two kids lost their lives in separate fires in separate towns in Maine was bad enough, but unfortunately it didn't end there. A family of 6 was left homeless and a couple in their 70's died as a result of fire--all in the span of one week!

Unfortunately, most of last week's fires were ruled accidental; the result of improper electrical work or combustible materials placed too close to a wood stove. There have also been numerous reports of chimney fires this past week, one hitting close to home for me, because it was at my house!

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I cannot imagine the sense of loss that these families, friends and communities feel in the wake of something so tragic. I cannot fathom what the first responders must be going through in a situation like this. My heart breaks for everyone around, while my head tries to make sense of it all, and look for ways to prevent things like this from ever happening again.

The brave men and women who fight fires for a living are doing the same; urging folks to keep safety at the forefront of their minds while heating their homes, and doing home improvement projects this winter.

Orono Firefighter, Dennis Bean, says the those fires where someone doesn't make it out alive stay with you.

" VERY TRAGIC!!!!THE thought never leaves my mind of just wondering what those last few horrifying minutes were like for any of those victims!!!! The thing that bothers me most is that it still happens year after year. I know these things happen...but we can all better prepare ourselves."

In fact, the Mattawamkeag Fire Department put a post up on their Facebook Page this week, asking people to do just that: better prepare; to double check things like smoke detectors and making sure exits are clear so that in the case of a fire, you can be alerted to it's presence and then get out safely!

Fire officials say it's not just smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and exits that should be checked, but it's important to have heat sources serviced, inspected and up to code, as well. And if your house is in need of electrical work, make sure you have a licensed electrician do the work. It's not worth it to cut corners in that situation.

Creating a family evacuation plan, complete with meeting spot is important, too.
Taking a little time to check, inspect and plan could save you precious moments in the event you are ever dealing with a fire. And those precious moments could save lives.

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