An early morning house fire claimed the life of an 82-year-old Peaster woman Friday morning.
Firefighters were called to 121 Bellenger Lane around 3:22 a.m., where they found the single-story home engulfed in flames.
After the fire was contained, firefighters found the body of the woman deceased on the bathroom floor of the home.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, however it’s believed that a space heater may have contributed to the blaze.
“Firefighters located a space heater and believe this is where the fire started,” said Joel Kertok, public information coordinator for Parker County. “Our hearts go out to the friends and family members of the deceased and we urge our residents to check on the elderly and their heating applicances during these cold snaps.”
The fire was extinguished by 4:42 a.m.
Kurt Harris, fire marshall for Parker County, said it’s important to think long term and make intelligent decisions during critically cold weather. He offered these suggestions:
▪ Adding electrical heat may be the quick solution but make sure that the appliance being bought matches the needs of the space. Expecting a space heater to warm an entire room is dangerous, because it’s designed to only heat a small space. It is supposed to turn off and on via the thermostat, which allows the power cord to cool down before the next cycle, but when it’s used to heat an area larger than what it is designed for, the cord (or the weakest link in the electrical circuit which could be the plug or outlet) could overheat.
▪ Never allow electrical cords to be placed under anything like carpets, boxes, stacks of magazines or books, clothing, etc.), as the cords are designed to dissipate heat.
▪ Never overload outlets. Know how many watts are being utilized by the appliances on that circuit and make sure it is within acceptable tolerances (you might have to seek an electrician’s advice if you are not familiar with wattages and the formula for that purpose).
▪ Make sure wood-burning heaters are properly vented to the outside and that the vent/flu is kept clean to keep creosote from accumulating and critters from making nests. Also make sure that a “spark arresting” screen is properly placed in front of the fireplace and on the chimney to keep sparks from making their way to a combustible material.
▪ Have your heating appliances checked yearly by a qualified technician, especially if it is a gas or wood-fired appliance.
▪ Make sure you have working smoke detectors in the home — one in every bedroom and the corridor leading to those bedrooms and on every floor.
▪ Have an “escape plan” in the event of a fire and practice it.
▪ If you have animals outside, do not use heat lamps to keep them warm unless they are installed by a qualified electrician. Even then, don’t have the animal’s living space close to the residence. That way if it does catch fire, it won’t spread to the residence.
▪ Space heaters need to be kept a minimum of 3 feet away from any combustibles. Also, don’t use an extension cord with them; they should be plugged directly into an outlet. And be sure to turn them off and unplug them when leaving the house or retiring for the night.
Lance Winter: 817-390-7274