By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A space heater that was left unattended and without a clear area around it, is being blamed for a Christmas Eve fire that gutted a Brooks Lane residence.
“The presumptive call is that it was caused by a space heater left too close to the furniture,” said Atmore Fire Department Capt. Jeremy Blackmon.
Firefighters from Atmore and Poarch Creek fire departments gained control of the flames inside the home within about a half hour. They were on the scene for 50 more minutes fighting flare-ups and eliminating hot spots as thick, black smoke continued to pour from the dwelling.
Atmore and Poarch police blocked off both ends of the city street, which connects North Main Street to Brown Street, and diverted traffic away from the site as firefighters battled the blaze.
Atmore Fire Chief Ron Peebles said the home sustained extensive damage from fire, smoke and water.
“I’d say it was a total loss,” Peebles said. “There were a couple of rooms in the back that weren’t burnt, but everything inside them was melted. The house had a metal roof and asbestos siding, and both of those held the heat in. There was no way to let the heat out.”
Emergency dispatchers alerted AFD personnel of the fire at 3:11 p.m. The first AFD unit arrived two minutes later; a second arrived shortly thereafter, and a PCI unit was soon on the scene.
The home’s occupant had left the house, and a relative who had dropped by told firefighters that three space heaters were on and the fire was burning when he went inside.