TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A space heater is the cause of a Tuesday morning house fire in the Oakland neighborhood that killed two family pets, according to the Topeka Fire Department.
Shawnee County Dispatch said it first received a report of a structure fire around 4:30 a.m. at 427 NE Emmett St. Firefighters at the scene confirmed a dog and a cat died in the fire. Investigators said the fire was accidental, having been caused by a space heater. The homeowner, Ruth Roberts, was not inside the home at the time.
Her son, Johnathan Hamilton, is also her next-door neighbor. He was woken up by another neighbor alerting him that his mom’s house was on fire.
“I went out there and talked to firefighters and all that until my mom actually got there,” Hamilton said. “I went to next-door neighbors and talked to them and then came back over. They got ahold of her and she came over here.”
The Topeka Fire Department said space heaters can cause damage when not used correctly.
“A space heater when used improperly can really be dangerous,” Alan Stahl, with the fire department, said. “Remember it’s designed to heat up objects and usually a whole room. But it will heat up anything in front of it.”
The fire made $20,000 in structural damage and $5,000 in contents lost, according to the Topeka Fire Department. There were working smoke detectors inside the home.
Hamilton said Roberts is currently living with her parents until she can figure out a long term arrangement.