Fire officials issue heater safety message following fatal Wilson fire

Source: Steve Sbraccia/WNCN

WILSON, N.C. (WNCN) – A fire that killed an elderly woman early Saturday is prompting Wilson Fire officials to warn residents about the use of space heaters.

Dorothy Hawkins was attempting to refuel her kerosene heater when fire officials said she spilled fuel and it went up in flames around 2:30 Saturday morning.

One of Hawkins’ daughter’s heard a scream and spotted a wall of flames coming from the living room.

That daughter rushed her disabled sister out of the house but firefighters said Hawkins never made it out.

“It’s a big loss for the family, I know that for sure,” said Hawkins’ cousin, Etta Cobb.

Hawkins’ family said the 70-year-old enjoyed sitting on the front porch of her home and was fiercely independent.

“She always tried to do things herself,” said cousin John Tyson. “She didn’t want to put no strain on anybody. She liked to do things by herself.”

Fire officials warn if you use a kerosene heater you need to follow some simple safety tips before refueling:

  • Turn it off
  • Let it cool down
  • Take it outside to refuel

The National Fire Protection Association said space heaters account for one-third of home heating fires and four of five home heating deaths.

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