A space heater is believed to be the cause of a fire that destroyed a single-wide mobile home and left a Thomson couple homeless last Wednesday night, a fire official says.
McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services Assistant Chief Stephen Sewell said heavy flames and smoke could be seen by the time firefighters began arriving at the home at 1745 Nathan Rogers Road about 7:45 p.m. The home was shared by John Rogers and his girlfriend, Rhonda Wallace.
"We believe that a space heater located in a rear bedroom is responsible for the fire," Assistant Chief Sewell said. "It was accidentally left on all day and too close to a bed."
He went back to the scene last Friday and examined the radiator-type heater, which was found in the charred debris.
"We're going to rule the fire accidental," Assistant Chief Sewell said.
Ms. Wallace said she had just returned home from visiting at her aunt's home nearby. Mr. Rogers was still there visiting when a neighbor spotted flames coming from the home and called 911.
"I was just fixing to go to bed," Ms. Wallace said, shivering from the cold night air as tears streamed down her face. "I don't know where I'm going to be sleeping now. I forgot to turn off the heater when I left today."
Mr. Rogers, an employee of Steve Perdue Homebuilders of Thomson, said he and Ms. Wallace ate supper and then went visiting.
The couple had lived in the mobile home for the past four years. It was owned by Mr. Rogers' father, Ollie.
"We've lost everything," the younger Mr. Rogers said, as he and his girlfriend sat on the rear bumper of a fire truck while being interviewed by Assistant Chief Sewell and a news reporter. "I don't know what we're going to do now."
More than a dozen firefighters battled intense flames and heavy smoke for about a half hour before managing to bring the fire under control.