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Family displaced after space heater ignites house fire

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

ALTUS, Okla. (KSWO) -An Altus family is left without a home after a space heater caught fire early Friday morning and the flames spread throughout the house.

After unsuccessful attempts to put the fire out themselves, the mother, her son and their dog all made it out safely. When the Altus Fire Department arrived at the house on the 800 block of Walnut around 2:00 a.m., smoke was coming out of the living room and the back of the home.

The first floor of the home suffered from fire and smoke damage, however, fire investigators say the home is structurally sound, and the family can move back in when they clean it up and get the electrical wiring redone.

The son says they are staying with his sister while they start cleaning up the house. They are hoping to move back in, but he said he doesn't see it happening anytime soon.

As father and son work to board up the broken windows in their home, the son looks around at the things that were charred by the fire.

"Of all the things that were burned, my dad's jacket. I can still see him when I was in elementary school with the little black jacket with the white stripe down the shoulder which is burned. It was in there," said the son.

The son was sleeping on the second floor when he heard his mother screaming his name. He ran down and saw nothing but smoke pouring in from the bathroom. Curtains, towels and other things in the room started to catch fire as they tried to put it out.

"I kind of panicked a little bit. I started filling up a cup, then I stopped and got my composure and was like ‘we need to go,’" he said.

The son says the damage looks worse than it actually is, and is thankful his family wasn't hurt.

"My mom's okay. She could've caught a blaze when she opened that door, but she didn't, so I'm very grateful that she's alive. Honestly, I don't feel really too bad about this because other people are caught in worse situations," he said.

Altus Fire Marshal Kyle Davis says all the things in the home and surrounding the space heater helped fuel the fire. He says as the temperature drops, the risk of a fire being caused by space heaters or fireplaces goes up.

"You know, it's a bad time for fires all the time, but this time of year with Christmas and the holidays and the cold weather, it is a tough time for a house fire," Davis said.

Davis advises anyone who must use a space heater this winter to only use it while you're home, only during the day and in a clear area. Davis suggests getting one that is well-made, even if it might cost more, because it could save your home and your life.

If you would like to help the family in any way, call 580-301-4166.

Copyright 2015 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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