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Winter Weather Snow Roads
(File photo)

City fire chief warns of winter dangers following recent bout of cold weather

BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon’s fire chief is warning the community about the dangers of rapidly dropping temperatures and black ice after winter officially reared its head Tuesday, Nov. 28.

After members of the Buckhannon-Upshur community woke up to icy and treacherous roads that caused a number of wrecks Tuesday morning, chief J.B. Kimble advised people to avoid driving in those conditions whenever possible.

“There was a sudden change in temperature, and then we had that little burst of snow, which created horrible conditions on every road,” Kimble said. “We tell people to wait 15 to 30 minutes and let the State Department of Highways do their thing, but people have places to go at around the same time in the morning, which makes it even worse.”

“My daughter got stuck at GoMart on her way to the high school, so she called me, and I told her to just go home – it’s not worth it,” Kimble added.

He said people should keep an eye on the weather so they aren’t surprised in the morning and allow themselves plenty of time to get to work and for the roads to get treated.

“Sometimes it’s easier just to pull over and wait it out than it is to try to drive because then your day becomes bad and creates a bad day for 500 other people,” Kimble said. “We had Route 20 completely closed, the golf course road (Country Club Road) was closed, and Brushy Fork Road was closed, so the major arteries that get people to the north and south ends of our community were all closed due to wrecks and other blockages.”

Kimble said the vehicle accidents occurred around the same time, causing traffic backups.

“We had trucks at different places, and there’s only so many wreckers in the county, and then once the traffic starts backing up and the roads are so bad, how does a wrecker get there?” Kimble said. “It’s just a bad situation for everyone, so sometimes it’s easier just to get off the road and wait it out while everyone does their job.”

Kimble also addressed some additional seasonal hazards, including the use of extension cords and other precautions to prevent the outbreak of structure fires. First, the fire chief warned Christmas lights enthusiasts to use proper extension cords when getting ready to decorate this year.

“Extension cords are very dangerous if you don’t use the correct ones, so you always want to use commercial grade extension cords if you’re plugging in lights – especially outside,” Kimble said. “Inside, do not cover them because that creates heat inside the extension cord or can cause them to break down under a rug or a blanket, which can cause a fire.”

Other tips included ensuring smoke detectors are functional and securing outbuildings.

“Always make sure your smoke detectors work, and if you have any vacant properties or outbuildings, you might make sure they’re secure,” Kimble said. “I don’t want to pinpoint people, but a lot of homeless people are looking for a warm place to sleep, and if they get in there and start a fire to stay warm, it can cause a bigger fire.”

He also warned about the dangers of space heaters and using propane heaters to thaw frozen pipes.

“When pipes are frozen, I would only recommend using a hairdryer because it doesn’t have any actual flames,” Kimble said. “Propane heaters do, and I have seen a lot of house fires caused by that.”

Finally, he urged residents to check the batteries and functionality of their carbon monoxide detectors in their homes.

“Make sure you have CO detectors in your house – that’s a silent killer, it’s like your smoke detector — so make sure it’s working and that you have one, this time of year especially.”

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