BOISE -- The Boise Fire Department says it now has the likely cause of a dramatic RV fire that sent smoke into the air over Boise last week. Firefighters were there within minutes, but they couldn't save the home or the pets inside.

Boise Fire Marshal Romeo Gervais says the fire likely started near the back of the RV and offered their biggest clues into what may have started it. There were two space heaters in the area, one of which the owner told them is left on all the time to keep her pets warm.

Gervais gave KTVB some advice on what makes space heaters dangerous and how to use them safely.

Probably the biggest [concern] is clearance to combustibles and/or children or pets. So when you deal with space heaters, you want to keep at least three feet or so clear around them and keep them out of the reach of children and pets. For a number of different reasons: pets can easily knock them over or children can get burned on them, Gervais said.

When it comes to choosing a heater and placing it safely, Gervais says don't use extension cords or power strips.

Anytime we deal with space heaters, we recommend that you do plug them directly into an outlet and that they are listed by a national laboratory, Gervais said.

Gervais recommends getting a one with that tipover protection as well as overheat protection, both of which will force a shut-off if there's a problem. He also says electric heaters tend to be safer than others. He also advises parents and pet owners to buy heaters with covers or guards over the working parts of the heater to prevent burns.

Space heaters, including wood stoves, are responsible for a third of all home heating fires, and four out of five deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Most of those fires were started because the heaters were too close to flammable things, like furniture.

In addition to space heater safety, Gervais says not to use ovens or stoves as heat sources. He also says to avoid fire and exposure to carbon monoxide, don't use outdoor fuel heaters, like those meant for camping, indoors.

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