House fire being blamed on space heater

December 20, 2009 9:23:41 PM PST
A family in east Houston is struggling to recover after a fire burned their home right before the holidays. Firefighters say the flames can be traced back to a space heater. The family says they have virtually nothing left after the fire on Lockwood this morning. The homeowner says they were just lucky to get out.

Normally the sound of his dogs barking early in the morning would not be a welcome sound to Christopher Malveaux, but this time it saved his life.

"The dogs barked from the smoke I guess," he said.

Malveaux's one-story wood frame house caught fire just before 5am. At the time, his wife's 4-year-old grandson was not at home, but he and his wife were there with his stepson. All three of them got out unharmed because the dogs woke them up.

"We couldn't put the fire out in the bathroom in time to save the rest of the house," said Malveaux.

Firefighters blame a space heater in the bathroom. They say it happens often, and often with deadly consequences.

"We have this every year when it gets cold," said District Chief Mike Stuckey with the Houston Fire Department. "We have fires started by space heaters usually because people have combustibles too close to it or they don't have a space heater secured to keep it from falling over onto combustibles."

Malveaux says there is nothing worth saving. The presents he had purchased for Christmas were all destroyed.

"Playstation 3 and whatever my wife had got," he said. "Everything is a total loss. I don't know what we're going to do for the holidays. It's that bad."

With no insurance, this will be a rough holiday for the family, but Malveaux is grateful because he knows if not for his pets, it could have been so much worse.

"Could have been, one of us could have been trapped in there," said Malveaux.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, supplemental heaters, like space heaters, account for 25,000 fires nationwide each year.


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