The Lafayette Fire Department had to responded to a Friday night house fire that left two dwellings with heavy smoke and fire damage.

Just before 7 p.m. on Friday night, firefighters were called to the scene by a neighbor who spotted smoke coming from the roof of one of the dwellings. According to a release, firefighters were on the scene quickly and spotted heavy smoke coming from the dwelling.

"Emergency crews made entry and discovered the fire in a storage closet for a hot water heater," the release stated. "The fire was quickly extinguished. Both units sustained smoke and fire damage."

While occupants of both dwellings, which were connected, were out at the time of the fire. However, emergency respondents did have to rescue three pets from one of the units. The pets were safely transported to a local pet hospital for evaluation.

The contents of the dwellings, however, could not be rescued and sustained "substantial" damage, LFD said.

Officials have determined that the fire started as the result of a malfunction in one of the units' hot water heater. The fire was determined to be an accident.

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Fire Safety

There are several steps you can take to prepare for a fire-related emergency in your home. Some important tips, via American Red Cross, include:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Test smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.
  • Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
  • If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.

Hot water heaters can become susceptible to fire without the proper care. Some steps you can take to minimize that risk include:

  1. Set your hot water heater's temperature below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Above that temperature may cause the heater to overheat and catch on fire.
  2. Flush out hot water through the drain valve once per year to reduce the build-up of sediment in your tank. Turn off the heater's electricity. Attach a garden hose to the valve and use the pump to drain water into a bucket. Fill the heater with water. Repeat the process until there is no more sediment in the bucket. Disconnect the hose and pump, and turn the electricity back on to resume use.
  3. Move any flammable or combustible material away from the hot water heater.
  4. Test the safety release valve once per year by following your heater's instruction manual.
  5. Schedule an annual inspection by a hot water heater expert.

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