Electric space heater possible cause of historic Fulton home fire

FULTON, Mo. - A Fulton man now considers his relative's home a total loss after a Thursday morning fire. Crews went to 211 Jefferson St. near Westminster College a little after 11 a.m., and reported flames coming from the window and roof. The department sent their ladder unit and attacked the fire from above.

Investigators later confirmed an electric heater is most likely the cause, because all other sources have been eliminated.

ABC 17 News learned a woman lives there with two children, ages 13 and 9. When a family member heard about the fire, he told ABC 17 News he was concerned his grandchildren might be inside. Firefighters later found nobody was home at the time.

The home is on the Missouri Historic Registry, and officials say the older brick structure helped spread the blaze. Investigators remained on scene for much of the afternoon.

Electric space heaters are no stranger to winter house fires.

In fact space heaters cause one third of all winter house fires and 80% of all winter heating fire deaths according to the National Fire Protection Association.

However, even with these staggering facts, millions of people rely on their space heaters to keep warm.

Friday, Gale Blomenkamp, with the Boone County Fire Protection District came and examined some of ABC 17's space heaters.

Blomenkamp found one was safer than the other.

The reason is because of a limiting switch, meaning if the heater gets too hot or tips over it will automatically turn off.

Fire officials say this is a must when buying or using a space heater.

"Space heaters can be used safely and effectively. The problem is they may come too close to combustibles. People may use them at night and when they toss and turn a blanket or pillow may fall on them which puts them in danger of starting a fire," said Blomenkamp.

Space heater users also want to make sure theirs is UL tested and that it is turned off whenever you leave that room.

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