Two mobile homes were destroyed by fire during the last week of 2013.

On Christmas Day, a doublewide home at 548 Ridge Road, near the Otter Slide Road intersection, was consumed by flames.

Ashley Carr, a spokesperson for the State Fire Marshalís office, said the fire was ruled accidental and may have been caused by a faulty electrical outlet or space heater.  She said the home was a total loss but the trailerís owner, Julia Smith, escaped without injury.

On Dec. 29, a second fire occurred not far away. At about 1:15 a.m. residents of a mobile home at 38 Jefferson Street awakened to find their home in flames.

Morris "Jay" Eveland and his wife Wendy shared their home with daughter Clarissa Cruson, her husband Deven, their three children, and a niece and nephew.

The families escaped from their home with nothing but the clothes they wore. Two Chihuahuas were killed in the blaze. A Red Cross spokesperson said some members of the family were barefoot.

With funds donated by the Red Cross and a local church, the family was temporarily housed at the Best Western Inn in Apalachicola. Clothing and household items were donated after a request for help was posted on the Franklin County Yard Sale Facebook page.

Carr said the fire marshalís office was not asked to investigate the Jefferson Street fire.

According to the website for Nationwide Insurance, in 2010, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 57,100 reported U.S. home structure fires, resulting in 490 deaths, 1,540 injuries and $1.1 billion in direct property damage.

Fuel-burning space heaters also can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and indoor air pollution, because of improper venting or incomplete combustion.

Underwriters Laboratory, a safety consulting and certification company advises space heater users to keep all space heaters at least three feet from household combustibles, and to use them only as a supplementary source of heat. These devices are not intended to replace the home's heating system and never to use an extension cord with a space heater unless absolutely necessary.

The heaterís power cord should be frequently inspected for fraying and damage. Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced. This could be the sign of a potential home wiring issue.

Heaters should be placed on a flat, level surface. Do not place heaters on furniture since they may fall and become damaged. Unless the heater is designed for use outdoors or in bathrooms, do not use in damp, wet areas.

Look for the UL (Underwriters Laboratory) mark on the heater, which means sample heaters have met UL's stringent safety standards.

If you have a liquid-fueled space heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. The wrong fuel could burn hotter than the equipment was designed for and cause fire.

When refueling, turn off the heater and let it cool down completely before adding fuel. Wipe away any spills promptly.

Select a space heater with a guard around the flame area or the heating element. This will help keep children, pets and clothing away from the heat source.