The Lubbock Fire Marshal's office has determined a gas heater was involved in a deadly accidental fire Sunday morning in the 3000 block of Erskine. Clifford Carter, 61, died in the fire.
Investigators are still trying to determine exactly how the fire started, but they do know a heater in the bathroom of the house was the heat source. They want to remind everyone now that the weather is getting cold, be careful when using your heaters. "The way the fire looked, looks like it was pretty bad," said neighbor Eva Rangel.
"The thought of someone being cold during the winter is the saddest thing I can think of. We don't want that to happen, but we don't want people to compromise their safety to stay warm. That happens every year and we end up with deaths because of it," said Fire Marshal Garret Nelson.
Nelson says a few precautions can prevent fires like the one that destroyed a house and killed Clifford Carter Sunday morning. "Really, really sad because, I mean, I've known Mr. Carter since I was a little girl, like five or six years old," said Rangel.
Nelson says have a professional check your heating units annually, "In my experience, it hasn't been a big dollar item to get them to come check it out. Especially when you think of the expense and the emotional expense of if you end up having a fire and people get hurt."
When using space heaters, make sure they are three feet away from any flammable objects. Fire Marshal's believe Carter tried to put out the fire himself. They say you shouldn't do that. Instead, get out of the house and call firefighters who are trained and have appropriate equipment. "Fighting fires is a dangerous situation. It's dangerous with all of those protections. Without them, it's deadly," said Nelson.
Most importantly, make sure you have a working smoke detector in your home. Carter's house did not. The Lubbock Fire Department says it has never seen a fire fatality in a home with a working smoke detector.
In addition, as you get ready for the holidays check every strand of Christmas lights every year to make sure the cord isn't broken. Turn your Christmas lights off before you go to bed at night, and don't plug in too many at a time. If you have a live Christmas tree, make sure it stays wet enough, and do not put it near any heaters.