Kerosene Heater Likely to Blame in Fatal Fire, Investigators Say

Succumbed to severe burns, smoke inhalation

Monday, Nov 26, 2012  |  Updated 7:34 AM EDT
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News4's Derrick Ward talks to the Prince George's County Fire Chief about safety issues after two fires, one of them deadly, on a cold Sunday.

Derrick Ward

News4's Derrick Ward talks to the Prince George's County Fire Chief about safety issues after two fires, one of them deadly, on a cold Sunday.

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A 50-year-old man who died in a fatal fire may have been trying to fill a kerosene heater while it was burning inside his Oxon Hill home, according to a preliminary report from investigators.

The vapors ignited, and the man was severely burned. He and his wife were rescued from their house in the 5100 block of Boulder Drive around 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

"She was screaming, hollering, 'My house is on fire!'" a neighbor told News4's Derrick Ward. "I looked over and saw the fire coming out the window."

The neighbor said he did what he could, knocking down some of the flames with a hose and breaking windows, but they had to wait for a rescue until firefighters arrived.

The couple was taken to a hospital, where the husband died from his injuries Sunday afternoon. The wife was showing symptoms of smoke inhalation and was listed in fair condition.

Their names are not being released until family members are notified.

Firefighters are warning people that these kind of accidents are completely avoidable: "Make sure that you fill a heater outside the home; make sure that the heater is turned off, and that you're not trying to fill it while it's actually burning. With the other heating systems, make sure that they're properly placed at least three feet from combustible materials, and that every year you have them checked."

However, the definitive cause of the fire remains under invesigation.

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