Too bad Ricki Lake doesn't have her talk show anymore—if so she could interview Britney Haynes, of Big Brother fame, and they could commiserate on the couch about both losing their rental homes to fire this week. Actually, it was a couch that reportedly got Lake into trouble.
According to KABC-TV, the former TV talker was refilling a liquid-fueled portable heater in her Malibu home when her couch caught fire. She and her two sons got out safely but the house was a total loss. Meanwhile in Hillcrest, Arkansas, Haynes' home went up in smoke after embers from an outdoor grill ignited a blaze, reported ArkansasOnline.com. Haynes was out of town and on the set at the time.
Lake “made an effort to put the fire out but apparently some embers remained and the couch continued to ignite and eventually set the house ablaze,” Lt. Rick Erickson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department told KABC-TV. But the landlord told RadarOnline that Lake should not have been refilling an outdoor heater indoors.
Good advice. Portable space heaters cause an estimated 21,650 home fires and 1,512 fire-related injuries and deaths each year. Liquid-fueled heaters are the most dangerous and should not be used indoors. In our recent report on space heaters, we found plenty of electric models that combine the latest safety features with good performance.
The blaze at Haynes' house was started by a small grill in the backyard that ignited the grass, spread to a trash can and then to the house, investigators told ArkansasOnline. The fire started after Haynes' fiance had finished grilling even though he had doused the coals with water. Damage to the house totaled at least $50,000.
Injuries from grills led to 18,600 emergency-room admissions in 2007, the last year for which statistics are available. But by taking a few precautions they can be used without incident.
Moral of the story: Think twice before renting your home to a celebrity? Or how about this: If you're a landlord, make sure your rental is equipped with fire extinguishers and that the tenants know how to use them.