|Electric blanket believed cause of Tuesday house fire|
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Nov. 24, 2006 - The fire which decimated the house at 437 Jefferson St. Tuesday morning was determined to have started in the utility room floor, where an electric blanket was left turned on while the resident performed daily errands in the predawn hours, according to Sulphur Springs Fire Department Chief Gerry Cleaver and Investigator David James.
The investigators, using burn patterns and other evidence, determined the fire began at floor level, then spread up the walls into the attic space and kept blazing under the tin roof.
Other evidence pointed to the electrical blanket as the source of the blaze, James said after wrapping up an inspection of the room.
The resident was being assisted by Hopkins County Salvation Army, who helped her afford the cost of a hotel room Tuesday evening. The resident, according to officials, had been talking with someone to firm up more permanent housing arrangements.
The homeowner did have insurance on the house, which should assist her in purchasing new accomodations when they become available, firefighters said. She had also contacted someone to help her move the furniture which firefighters were able to salvage from the home.
The rest of the house was considered a total loss by firefighters, who battled the blaze from about 6:30 a.m. until late Tuesday morning. Firemen said their efforts were hampered by the tin roof, which insulated shingles that continued to smolder and reignite until the metal could be lifted enough to ventilate the building and provide ample access to the flames in the attic.