By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — A space heater was the likely source of a fatal fire that claimed the life of a 73-year-old Alabama woman just hours into her holiday visit with family.
Taylor Fire Chief Bob Tompos said the department was called at 3 a.m. Thursday from Fourth Street in the Robinwood Mobile Home Park off Beech Daly near Ecorse Road.
Responding crews found the home consumed with flames and two others under threat.
“When they arrived one was fully involved and it spread to two adjacent structures,” Tompos said.
One woman, visiting family in the house that was consumed, died in the fire. Her name had not been released by press time. The woman’s son reportedly suffered burn injuries but declined treatment and hospital transportation.
Tompos said there were no other reported injuries from any of the affected homes, one of which was vacant.
“Other people managed to get out, but one home was severely damaged,” Tompos said. Initial investigations indicated that a space heater likely ignited clothing or a curtain to start the blaze. The home’s furnace was said to be broken and several heaters were in use.
The woman’s body was found in a bedroom where she’d been sleeping. Witnesses told fire responders that her son attempted to put the fire out, and that the home was quickly consumed by and destroyed by the fire.
Tompos said that responders arrived within six minutes of the alarm from the primary fire station. One of the city’s two shuttered stations is on Ecorse Road, a response from which would likely be under a minute.
The quicker response, however, likely would not have spared the woman’s life, Tompos said.
“I doubt it would have made a difference with the lady who perished,” Tompos said. “But we would have had a better chance at stopping the exposure and losing sidings or walls. Fire doubles exponentially every 30 seconds; this one had five minutes to double.”
Responding units contained the blaze quickly, but Tompos still hopes to soon reopen Taylor’s dormant fire houses.
“They had it under control reasonably quick,” Tompos said. “We had a full complement of people to respond, but we hope to get some money to open the stations.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])’