Space heater leads to fatal fire; investigators warn others of heater dangers

News 12 First at Five / Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As the temperatures start to dip, people are starting to find ways to keep warm.

"This time of the year people are using space heaters a lot," said Lt. Neal Brown with the Richmond County Fire Department.

They seem harmless, but if they aren't used properly, they can quickly lead to a house fire.

"People leave them too close to draperies, bed spreads, furniture, stuff like that. Anything that will burn," Brown said.

Just this past weekend, an elderly man was killed in a house fire on Apricot Lane.

"That was caused by a space heater and a blanket," Brown said.

Fire investigators say the man was sitting too close to his space heater, and his blanket caught fire.

Robert Lewis tried to save the man.

"It was pretty bad. I think he had oxygen in there too, so that blew up, and then the cars blew up, I guess," Lewis said.

Brown says they had several cases like this one last winter, but he says this can easily be prevented.

"If you're not using that heater when you walk off, please turn it off, or better yet, unplug it from the wall," he said.

He says to make sure the heater is always at least 3 feet away from anything that could catch on fire and to make sure not to overload the outlet.

"Try to put it on a separate breaker if you're going to use one," he said.

He also says it may be a good time to invest in a new heater.

"The ones built today are designed and built if they are turned over or tipped over they will turn off," he said.

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