Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins and Richland County Coroner Gary Watts held a press conference today, Monday November 9, 2015 concerning an investigation involving the death at this morning’s fire at 3202 Howell Avenue.
Coroner Gary Watts stated that the victim has tentatively identified James Moses Trousdale of 3202 Howell Avenue Columbia, SC 29203 with a DOB 10/24/1940. Coroner Watts will conduct an autopsy tomorrow but all indications are that he died as a result of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Columbia Fire Department was dispatched at approximately 10:15am today (November 9th) to a small two story residential structure fire with smoke and heavy fire coming from a second story window. As first units arrived on scene they were advised that there could be someone inside and after units made a search a victim was discovered in a room on the second floor. The victim was transported by Richland County EMS to an area hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
The fire investigation determined that the fire started as a result of space heater to close to combustible materials. It was also determined upon completion of the fire investigation, that the home had interconnected smoke alarms that were operations with the exception of one smoke alarm, which was located outside the room where the victim was located.
Damages to the home are estimated at $90,000.
Chief Jenkins and Coroner Watts urge citizens of the City of Columbia and Richland County to choose safe heating sources, but if you choose a space heater please remember to:
•Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
•Turn space heaters off when you leave a room or go to sleep, never leave any space heater unattended.
•Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
In 2011, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 53,600 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 400 civilian deaths, 1,520 civilian injuries, and $893 million in direct property damage. These fires accounted for 14% of all reported home fires.
Chief Jenkins and Coroner Watts state that home heating fires are largely the result of human error and the majority of them are preventable. By following some basic fire safety precautions and making small modifications, you can greatly reduce the risk of home heating fires.
•Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
•Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instruction. Have a qualified professional install the equipment.
•Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO poisoning can cause illness and even death.
•Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide early warning of carbon monoxide.
•Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
•Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
•Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations, and flammable materials.
•Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
•Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.