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Early morning fire in Temple claims one life

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 9:49am

Temple Fire and Rescue responded to a house fire on 813 East Avenue N early Friday morning.

The call was initially dispatched to the 1700 Block of South Martin Luther King Drive.  While crews were responding, additional information changed the location to the East Avenue N address.  As units arrived, they reported heavy fire and smoke from the front and right side of the wood framed house.  Fire fighters had to force entry into the house.   During search and rescue efforts, one person was located in the bedroom beyond medical assistance.

Justice of the Peace Don Engleking pronounced the person deceased and ordered an autopsy, which is being performed in Dallas. Identity of the person will be released once positive identification is made and family of the victim is notified.

The home received heavy fire damage.  Investigators could not find evidence of a smoke alarm in the residence.  At this point of the investigation the fire appears to be unintentional and originated in the bedroom.  A space heater was located close to combustible bedding.
Firefighters had to navigate through a maze of excessive contents in the home. 

Five Engine Companies, one Truck Company, one Fire Incident Commander, three support units, and a total of 24 Temple Fire & Rescue personnel responded to the call.  Temple Police, Scott & White EMS, Oncor Electric, and Atmos Energy also responded.  The call was dispatched at 12:44 a.m. The first unit arrived at 12:52 a.m. Fire under control notice was given at 1:12 a.m.  The last unit cleared at 4:01 a.m.

The risk of house fires increases with the use of space heaters.  As temperatures turn colder, Temple Fire & Rescue offer the following tips:

Portable Space Heaters
• When purchasing a space heater, look for the UL label.
• Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything which can burn like furniture and curtains.  Remember, space heaters need space.
• An adult should be in the room when a space heater is on. 
• Turn off the space heater when leaving the room or going to sleep.
• Plug space heaters directly into outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.

Use the Correct Appliance
• Use the stove/oven for cooking food, not for heating.
• Never use a gas/charcoal grill inside the home or closed garage.
• A portable electric generator must be operated in an outside area, never indoors.

General Tips
• Supervise children whenever a fireplace, wood burning stove or space heater is in use.  Have a three-foot “kid free” zone around open fires and space heaters.
• Install at least one smoke alarm on each floor level of the home and inside or near sleeping areas.
• Install at least one carbon monoxide (CO) alarm to provide early warning of deadly CO.
• Make a home escape plan with 2 ways out of each room.  Practice your plan to make sure it works.

Additional fire safety tips are available at the following websites:
U.S. Fire Administration,
National Fire Protection Association,

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