Blaze destroys Gaston home

Published 10:26 am Thursday, February 6, 2014

GASTON – For the second time in 10 days, an electric space heater used in a bedroom has resulted in a devastating residential fire.

Early Wednesday morning, personnel from Gaston Fire & Rescue responded to a blaze in that western Northampton County town.

According to Gaston Chief Ed Porter Jr., fire crews, upon arrival, found the male resident of the home outside and unharmed.

“The man stated that after exiting the shower, he found his mattress on fire and the room in flames. He stated that after safely exiting the home, flames breached through the outside windows,” stated Porter.

Firefighters found the home engulfed with flames. Porter said the firemen – from both the Gaston and Garysburg departments – pulled lines and quickly extinguished the blaze within a 10 minute period.

Paramedics from Northampton County EMS provided medical rehab.

Fire crews remained on scene for two and one-half hours.

Porter said the cause of the fire appeared to be from an electric heater placed next to a mattress. He added that the American Red Cross would assist the victim.

The same type of fire left an Ahoskie family homeless on Jan. 28. That blaze, at 117 VIP Road, caused extensive damage to a residence, but thankfully all of the home’s occupants, to include children, managed to escape safely.

Ahoskie Fire Chief Ken Dilday reported that the blaze began in a back bedroom of the single-story dwelling. There, among the charred rubble, was a small electric heater.

“My guess is that from the position it was in, it was located too close to the bed and the heat from that device was what caused the bed to catch on fire,” Dilday stated.

Jasman Smith, who rents the house, said one of the children in the home came out of the back bedroom and told her that the bed was smoking. She, in turn, went and checked it out, finding flames coming from the bed. By the time she rushed to get a bucket of water and returned to the bedroom, she told Dilday that the fire had already doubled in size.

The Emergency Medical Services Authority strongly recommends that electric heaters should be operated at least three feet away from upholstered furniture, drapes, bedding and other combustible materials. They also urge homeowners/renters to avoid using extension cords with those heaters unless absolutely necessary. If you must use an extension cord make sure it is marked with a power rating at least as high as that of the heater itself. Keep the cord stretched out. Do not permit the cord to become buried under carpeting or rugs. Do not place anything on top of the cord.

Also, never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture or the like. Never use heaters to dry wearing apparel or shoes.

The heater should be turned off when family members leave the house or are sleeping.