Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - After an apartment fire over the weekend in Missoula caused over $50,000 in damages, KGVO reached out to Missoula Rural Fire Captain Toby Ballard for important information to keep homes and people safe this winter as we heat our homes, apartments and other living spaces.

READ MORE: Candle Causes Over $50,000 in Fire Damage in Missoula

“Make sure that any stoves that you're using or any heaters that you're using are cleaned, and sometimes professionally cleaned depending on what you have,” said Captain Ballard. “Furnaces should be professionally cleaned and then on top of that, and in good working order, and also making sure that there is plenty of space around those heaters that you don't have things that are flammable close to the stove.”

Missoula Rural Fire has Advice to Prevent Winter House Fires

Captain Ballard also emphasized the importance of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for any dwelling.

“We always recommend that you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, your camper or in your tiny house whatever it is, because we see more problems with carbon monoxide,” he said.  “If a heater is not working well, and then that carbon monoxide gets into the atmosphere people go to sleep and they may not recognize that there's a problem until it's too late.”

Check the Batteries in your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

For elderly people who may be living alone or for their caregivers, Captain Ballard had more advice.

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“Having things like glasses, hearing aids, those sorts of things close by your phone right there at the nightstand is important,” he said. “That way if you wake up and you think there is a problem so you don't have to go searching for those things then that would be a big help. For someone that's older or if you're a caregiver, make sure that those things are readily available to someone that may need those in the middle of the night.”

For more important fire prevention information, click here or call Missoula Rural Fire at 406-549-6172.

Looking Back at One of Montana's Most Explosive Fires

The 2013 Lolo Creek Fire burned within 6 miles of Missoula

Gallery Credit: Dennis Bragg

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