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The Wichita Fire Department is using two attic fires that damaged homes on Tuesday as a reason to remind homeowners to be careful with their electrical usage.
There are several reasons the number of house fires increases in the winter: Fireplaces are in use, more cooking takes place during the holidays and furnaces can cause problems after being dormant for months. The problem with the fires on Tuesday, though, was in the electrical wiring.
Fire Investigations Capt. Stuart Bevis said it's easy to overload circuits, especially in older homes with outdated electrical technology. Common appliances that can cause overheating in the wiring are space heaters and Christmas decorations.
"When you start making those kind of draws on it, sometimes the breaker boxes aren't working properly," Bevis said.
A circuit breaker that trips regularly can be a sign that there is a dangerous problem.
"If it trips once, OK, maybe," Bevis said. "If it trips a second time, don't reset it and go back to normal business. It probably needs to be checked. There's something wrong."
Bevis said the fires at 307 North St. Paul and 2812 East First caused about $10,000 each, which, he said, was far more costly than a service call from an electrician.