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Fires displace families in Lee, Worth counties

A family of six was displaced after an early morning fire Monday at 119 Long Drive in Smithville. Lee County Fire Department officials believe the blaze was caused by a space heater.

A family of six was displaced after an early morning fire Monday at 119 Long Drive in Smithville. Lee County Fire Department officials believe the blaze was caused by a space heater.

SMITHVILLE -- Families in Lee and Worth counties have been displaced after their homes were consumed in flames.

At 5:30 a.m. Monday, a call came in to the Lee County Fire Department regarding a structural fire at 119 Long Drive in Smithville.

Officials with the fire department said the blaze was 50 percent involved. All six occupants were able to make it out of the structure safely.

"A smoke detector installed by the fire department alerted the residents (of the fire)," said Fire Capt. Todd Kirkland.

The home is considered a total loss. LFD officials say they believe a space heater may have been the cause of the fire.

"(The fire) is still under investigation, but the owner of the home did say there was a space heater in use in the room (where the fire originated)," Kirkland said.

The blaze is believed to have started in the bedroom.

In light of this incident, the Lee County Fire Department has issued some safety tips for space heaters. A few of them include:

-- Keeping all space heaters at least 3 feet away from household combustibles;

-- Using space heaters only as a supplemental source of heat. They are not meant to replace the home's heating system;

-- Not using extension cords with space heaters unless absolutely necessary;

-- Inspecting the heater's cord periodically for frayed wires or damaged insulation. Don't use a space heater with a damaged cord;

-- Placing heaters on a flat, level surface. Heaters placed on furniture might fall and become damaged;

-- Not using heaters in damp, wet areas unless they are designed for use outdoors or in bathrooms.

Kirkland added that fire department officials are open to checking smoke detectors or installing them in places where they are needed.

The Worth County fire was reported just before 7 a.m. Sunday at 154 Claude Bozeman Lane in Isabella.

Lt. Bryan Kent of the Worth County Fire Department said that there were four or five people in the house, all of whom got out safely. The fire was fully involved.

The home was a total loss, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation -- although it is believed to have started from the structure's carport.

More than 30 gallons of water had to be used to extinguish the flames, Kent said.

Worth fire department officials are currently taking donations to help the displaced family. Those interested in assisting may call the fire department at (229) 776-8223.