Space heater sparks fire that ripped through east Houston home

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Curtis Williams said it took mere moments for his mother's home to go up in flames. (KTRK)

Fire investigators blame a devastating house fire in east Houston on a space heater and faulty wiring.

"All this was in flames, so I rushed to try and smother it but the curtains caught and it went up and then the bed spread went up," Curtis Williams said.

He said he was in the bathroom of his mother's home on Gans Street only briefly when he heard a popping sound. Then he returned to his bedroom.

"It was engulfed in flames...I fell actually...the smoke was coming so thick," he said.

Around 11 p.m., Williams says he left a space heater running just for a moment to go to the bathroom. He says he heard a pop and the lights flickered.

Not a spilt second to spare, he tells Eyewitness News he screamed for his mother to get out.

Annie Chapel says she was still awake, watching TV. She had to fumble through three locks in the dark to open up the back door and escape.

"I was trying to get out my bedroom, out the back door. It had built up with smoke, and you can't breathe real good," Chapel said. "I had grabbed my old house coat and I put it over my face because I could feel my way to the back door."

She got out successfully.
Fire crews were able to knock the flames down, but not before major damage was done to the home. They told Chapel and her son the wiring in the home appears to have been old and was possibly faulty.

They're just thankful to have survived.

"These are things that we can replace. But life you cannot," Chapel said.

The victims say they're going to stay for now with relatives. They don't have insurance.

18 tips for safely heating your home this winter
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Space heaters, open flames and wood-burning stoves have all contributed to wintertime house fires in Houston

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