The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

February 16, 2014

UPDATE: Space heater tentative cause of accidental fatal fire

— State fire investigators have tentatively identified a space heater as the possible cause of a house fire that killed a Limestone County mother and daughter this week, an official said Friday.

Steve Holmes, public information officer for the Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office in Montgomery, said investigators have ruled the fire accidental and they are looking at a space heater as the possible cause, though a final determination has not been made.

Holmes could not say at this time how the heater could have caused the fire, whether it was the placement of the heater or another reason.

Josephine “Jo Ann” Lamar, 76, and Traci Rebecca Shook, 43, died early Wednesday when Lamar’s home at 4155 Snake Road caught fire, officials said.

Lamar’s son, Tommy, who was living in a basement apartment, noticed smoke about 12:30 a.m. and tried to get upstairs to his family members through a separate, outside entrance. He and his sister had been living in the home in order to care for their mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, an official said.

Although a private funeral will be held later for the women, the family held a visitation from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Spry Funeral Home in Athens.

Be careful with heat

According to Holmes, there already have been 35 fire-related deaths in Alabama in the first 1 1/2 months of the year. Most of those deaths occurred, he said, while people were trying to keep warm.

Among the common causes of such fires are failing to keep space heaters at least 3 feet from combustibles, plugging more than one heating device into an outlet and plugging space heaters into extension cords.

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