Man burned after using candles to heat home, officials say

Portland Fire and Rescue says it all began with a few seemingly harmless candles, lit by an elderly man and his wife who were trying to stay warm after their power was cutoff Friday.

Somehow the man's clothes caught on fire, his wife was able to put out the flames but not before he was badly burned.

"Candles make some heat but it's not a good idea in the house, we really discourage it," Lt. Damon Simmons said.

Simmons says the department runs into more candle-related fires than you might expect. They are about 3% of all calls and 7% of all burn injuries.

Candles can be good to have on hand for emergencies, but make sure they are placed in a proper holder. Also be sure to keep an eye on those candles, don't leave them in another room and put them out before heading to bed.

The man remains in critical condition, his wife wasn't hurt.

Portland General Electric says that because of privacy reasons they can't say how far behind the couple was on their payments.

However, PGE says that cutting off someone's power is the last resort and that they try to work with customers who are struggling.

If you are having trouble paying your bill there are programs available. PGE is legally obligated to cut off power after an account goes unpaid for too long.