Fire blamed on overloaded power strip after 63-year-old dies
GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The body of a person killed in a Christmas Eve mobile home fire still hasn’t been identified and probably won’t be for weeks because it was so badly damaged, the Columbia County coroner says.
Despite that, we’re starting to learn more about the victim and the fire that killed him.
Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King said Tuesday the victim was a 63-year-old man. Firefighters discovered his body in the hallway, King said.
King blamed the fire on an overloaded power strip under the man’s bed.
King said the fire that broke out around 8 p.m. Friday destroyed the 840-square-foot mobile home at the Arrowood Mobile Home Community, 4477 Wrightsboro Road.
Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said Monday that the badly burned body was being taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation lab for positive identification.
Collins said Tuesday that the body was so badly burned that it may take weeks to determine a positive identification, possibly through bone scans.
This marks the 122nd death from a Georgia fire in 2021 and the sixth in the CSRA in the past few weeks.
Other deaths include:
- Traci Smith, 10, died Dec. 15 in a house fire at 26 Independent Blvd. between New Ellenton and Beech Island in Aiken County.
- Sergio T. Villalobos, 29, died Dec. 10 in a camper fire at 526 Water Oak Drive in Windsor.
- Eugenia Gosdin, 82, died after suffering severe burns over 80 percent of her body Dec. 8 in Augusta. She was cooking at her home in the 1800 block of Telfair Street when the fire jumped onto her clothes.
- Two elderly sisters died in a fire Dec. 3 at 110 White Ash St. in Warrenville. Leila Ann Gantt, 72, and her sister Alice Gantt, 68, were trapped inside and died of smoke and soot inhalation and thermal injuries.
The fire deaths have raised concerns across the CSRA, with local rescuers offering tips on how to stay safe, since this is peak fire season.
“The No. 1 thing people can do right now is test and make sure they have a working smoke alarm inside their home,” said Augusta Fire Chief/EMA Director Antonio Burden. “There should be an alarm installed in every room where you have a loved one.”
Other safety steps people can take:
- Make an escape plan and practice it with everyone who lives in the home.
- If you’re cooking, never leave food unattended.
- Know how to put out a grease fire if one flares up. A grease fire could be extinguished by sliding a cover over the pot or pan, turning off the heat source, and move the pot or pan away from the heat source with a protective glove.
- Consider purchasing an ABC fire extinguisher.
- Do not overload your power outlets. If you use a power strip, make sure there’s a UL-tested label on it,
Home heating tips
In recognition of the risk of heating equipment, King asks Georgians to follow these tips for keeping yourself and your home safe this winter.
- Have your fireplace or wood stove chimney and chimney connectors inspected and cleaned at the start of the heating season.
- Do not plug heating equipment into extension cords. This can lead to overheating of the cord, damage to the appliance, and increased risk of fire or electric shock.
- Move anything that can burn (i.e., furniture, bedding, clothing) at least three feet from your heater, fireplace, or wood stove. Fifty-four percent of home heating fire deaths are caused by having heating equipment too close to things that can burn.
- Keep your children and pets safely away from your portable or space heater.
- Turn off your portable or space heater before leaving the room.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
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