Highlands County Fire and Rescue Reports increase in fires in December

HIGHLANDS COUNTY, FL –Highlands County Fire and Rescue has reported an increase in fires countywide and offered some tips this weekend on how homeowners can prevent unnecessary fires in their homes.

The following is a report issued by the HCFD today:

Our followers have probably noticed an uptick in structure fires this week. We’ve analyzed each of them – two of them devastating for the families, especially at this time of year.
We want to share the cause and discuss preventative actions all residents can take. You will see most of these originated from different and unrelated causes.

About 6 pm Sunday, HCFR units found fire showing from a home on East Royal Palm in Lake Placid. Firefighters remained on scene of this difficult fire for about 3 hours. The cause was a malfunctioning water heater, the home will likely be a total loss.


About 4:30 pm Monday, HCFR units found a Lewis Avenue (Golfview area) rear porch fire that was mostly extinguished by a resident with a garden hose. The loss of about $1,000 was caused by careless use of smoking materials.

About 6:45 pm Monday HCFR EMS assisted the Avon Park FD on a reported structure fire on Delaware Avenue. The cause of that fire was cooking related. The occupant was treated by EMS for minor burns.

About 11:45 pm Tuesday, HCFR units were alerted to New York Avenue (Schumacher area) for a reported house fire. Units found a malfunctioning AC/heater on fire on the outside of the home. Loss was contained to the heater.

About 3:35 pm Wednesday, HCFR units were alerted to a house fire on Cedarbook Street in the Highlands Park/Lake Placid area. Firefighters spent nearly 4-hours dealing with this one. The home was a near-total loss – the cause was food left cooking on the stove. Units returned to the home about 4:45 am today to extinguish some couch debris that was on fire.

About 12:45 am this morning (Thursday) , HCFR units were alerted for a house fire in the 209 block of South Sun n Lakes Blvd. Units found an odor of smoke in the home, which was generated by the dust burning off of the heating elements of a properly functioning heater. There was no loss.

– 1 malfunctioning water heater
– 1 careless use of smoking materials
– 2 cooking related
– 2 related to heating systems

Cooking is by far the most common cause of home fires in the United States, followed by electrical fires and careless use of smoking materials.


Residents are reminded to NEVER leave food cooking on a stove unattended. Additionally, mechanical systems of all kind should be cleaned and maintained properly for optimum life expectancy, ensuring powered devices have a properly rated electric cord.

Smoking materials should be fully extinguished using water, and should never be used around other flammable materials.

One last piece – as you can see in the last 2 pictures, 1 room of this house on Cedarbrook was largely untouched by fire (until the ceiling fell), while the adjoining room was gutted by fire. The difference? The first rooms door was closed. A stark reminder to “close before you doze” to protect bedroom occupants while they sleep.

Photos provided by Highlands Fire Department.