Colder weather has families breaking out the space heaters for warmth this month, but the Oklahoma Fire Marshall’s office encourages residents to use them properly or risk increased fire hazards.
In rural Love County, deputies responded to the scene of a house fire early Wednesday morning that claimed the lives of two Love County residents, Love County Sheriff Marty Grisham said. Deputies and fire fighters were unable to enter the home due to debris and the intensity of the fire.
“There were two fatalities, a 13-year old male and a
60-year old male. Family members stated the father was paralyzed so the boy went to help him get out, and they both succumbed to smoke inhalation,” Grisham said adding that the boy perished while trying to save his father.
Judah Shepard, an investigator with the Oklahoma Fire Marshall’s office, said the double-wide mobile home had active electric service but had run out of propane during the night.
The family reported they used three electric space heaters to heat the home while the mother and one of the children left to purchase more propane.
“The blaze appeared to have originated in the living room area, however due to the amount of damage, I was unable to determine whether the cause was electrical or the space heaters,” Shepard said. “The on-scene investigation ruled the fire was accidental.”
Shepard was able to verify that James Cummins, 60, perished in the fire and next of kin have been notified. The name of the juvenile was not released and he said the family has requested privacy to grieve at this time.
Both Grisham and Shepard urge anyone who uses space heaters to use them properly and in accordance with their instructions.
“They need to be at least three feet from any combustible material and not operated while plugged into an extension cord,” Shepard said.
Grisham also added that most new models of electric heaters have automatic shut off features to help reduce fire dangers.