House fires kill 7 people across CSRA

AIKEN, SC (WRDW / WAGT) – Home fires continue to ravage the CSRA, killing seven people in one month.

This is happening during the peak house fire season, raising concern among local first responders who have called on the public to stay safe.

The latest death was in a fire that was reported at 6:23 p.m. Thursday at 123 Weaver St. in Aiken County.

After the fire was extinguished, a body was found inside and the coroner was called to the scene. The coroner says the victim was not immediately identified and that she will be autopsied Monday morning in Newberry.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.

The death comes on the heels of several others across the CSRA dating back to earlier this month.

  • 63-year-old man whose name has not been released died in a fire on Christmas Eve at a mobile home in Columbia County. The fire was caused by an overloaded power strip, said Georgia Fire, Insurance and Safety Commissioner John F. King.
  • 10-year-old Traci Smith died in a house fire on December 15 at 26, boulevard Indépendant. between New Ellenton and Beech Island in Aiken County.
  • Sergio T. Villalobos, 29, died on December 10 in an RV fire at 526 Water Oak Drive in Windsor.
  • Eugenia Gosdin, 82, died of severe burns over 80 percent of his body on December 8 in Augusta. She was cooking at her home in the 1800 block of Telfair Street when fire broke out on her clothes.
  • Two elderly sisters died in a fire on December 3 at 110 White Ash Street in Warrenville. Leila Ann Gantt, 72, and her sister Alice Gantt, 68, were trapped inside and died of smoke and soot inhalation and thermal injuries.

Stay safe

Deaths from the fires have raised concerns across the CSRA, with local rescuers offering advice on how to stay safe as it is peak fire season.

“The first thing people can do right now is test and make sure they have a working smoke detector inside their home,” said Antonio Burden, fire chief and director of the Augusta’s EMA. “There should be an alarm installed in every room where you have a loved one.”

Other safety measures people can take:

  • Make an escape plan and put it into practice with everyone who lives in the house.
  • If you cook, never leave food unattended.
  • Know how to extinguish a grease fire if it ignites. A grease fire can be extinguished by sliding a cover over the pot or pan, turning off the heat source, and moving the pot or pan away from the heat source with a protective glove.
  • Consider purchasing an ABC fire extinguisher.
  • Don’t overload your outlets. If you are using a power strip, make sure it has a UL certified label.

Tips for heating the house

Recognizing the risk of heating equipment, King calls on Georgians to follow these tips to keep you and your home safe this winter.

  • Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned at the start of the heating season.
  • Do not plug heating equipment into extension cords. This can cause the cord to overheat, damage the appliance, and an increased risk of fire or electric shock.
  • Move anything that can burn (i.e. furniture, bedding, clothing) at least three feet from your furnace, fireplace or wood stove. Fifty-four percent of home heating fire deaths are caused by heating equipment being too close to objects that can burn.
  • Keep children and pets away from your portable or space heater.
  • Turn off your portable heater or heater before leaving the room.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.

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