Fire destroys area family's home

Alachua County firefighter Jon Acree is silhouetted by the background lights of various fire engines that reported to an early morning fire Wednesday near Windsor. Family members, who are being assisted by American Red Cross officials, had already left the home before the fire broke out but returned to find their house completely engulfed in flames.

(ROB C. WITZEL/The Gainesville Sun)
Published: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 12:24 a.m.

WINDSOR - An early morning blaze, which sent flames shooting up more than 30 feet into the air, destroyed an Alachua County family's home Wednesday.

The first house fire reported this year by Alachua County Fire Rescue, the cause of the blaze should serve as a warning to residents to take precautions with space heaters, said Justin Lagotic, the agency's spokesman.

A fire marshal determined that a heater, which the homeowner thought he had shut off, caused the fire at 12005 NE 42nd Lane, near Windsor, Lagotic said.

"The best thing for people to do is to remind yourself to check the space heater. The thing is they don't really get into a routine of shutting it off," he said, because the fluctuating hot-and-cold weather means the heaters aren't regularly used.

At about 5:30 a.m., firefighters were called to the fire at the one-story home, about three miles east of the Gainesville Regional Airport.

Flames could be seen from a mile away, Lagotic said. The house fire also spread, causing a brush fire.

No one was injured in the blaze. Sean Cornelius and his wife and baby had left about a half-hour earlier, when the couple headed out for work, Lagotic said. The space heater was located in a bedroom.

Lagotic said residents should keep a 3-foot radius around space heaters. To prevent problems, heaters also should be equipped with a device that will cause them to shut off if they tip over.

The damage to the home originally was estimated at about $60,000. "It's a total loss," Lagotic said.

The American Red Cross is assisting the family.

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