Officials: Portable heater causes James Island structure fire

Officials: Portable heater causes James Island structure fire

JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Firefighters say a James Island woman is lucky to be alive after a portable heater went up in flames early Tuesday morning, filling her home with smoke.

According to a release, Charleston and James Island Fire Departments responded to reports of a structure fire on Camp Road Tuesday. They arrived to find heavy smoke inside the residence, and a smoldering fire in the living room.

The woman told officials she called for help after waking up in the morning to find her home full of smoke and the smoke alarm blaring. She says she slept through the initial alarm and smoke because she had her bedroom door closed.

Officials say the woman was able to escape the home unharmed.

Firefighters determined the fire was caused by a portable heater in the family room that was powered by an extension cord. It then burned for an undetermined amount of time before the oxygen in the room was depleted, nearly extinguishing the flames.

Deputy Fire Marshal Rick Anewalt says the woman remained unharmed because her bedroom her bedroom door was closed.

"This fire could have resulted in a fire fatality," Anewalt said in a release. "The occupant of the home survived the fire event due to a closed bedroom door. This event reinforces the benefits of closing bedroom doors to improve or increase escape time and survivability of fire events."

The Charleston Fire Department has released the following reminders to help keep citizens safe from fires caused by space heaters:

  • Install and maintain smoke alarms in your home. Every level of your home should have at least one smoke alarm. Installing smoke alarms within each sleeping area and interconnecting alarms improves notification.
  • Verify smoke alarms can be heard throughout the home.
  • Maintain at least 3' of space between portable heaters and combustible materials.
  • Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Only utilize portable heaters that have been labeled by a recognized testing laboratory and include automatic shut-off (tip over) and thermostat control.
  • Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.
  • If there is a fire, get out and stay out. Call the fire department as soon as you are safely outside.

Copyright 2015 WCSC. All rights reserved.