LAFAYETTE (KPEL News) - A neighbor heading to work early Tuesday morning helped a 94-year-old woman escape a residential fire early Tuesday morning.

The Lafayette Fire Department was called to the scene of the fire on N. Pierce St. in Lafayette just before 7 a.m. They were on the scene within minutes of the call and putting out a major fire in the single-dwelling home, which sustained major damage.

Emergency responders had to enter the home to combat the fire, which was coming out of the doors and the windows. In all, it took about 15 minutes to put out the fire.

Lafayette Fire Department
Facebook Photo

The elderly woman woke to a popping sound coming from the plug of a window A/C and heater unit. She then noticed that her wall was on fire, and she moved out of the front door. The neighbor, who was headed to work, heard the woman hollering, according to reports, and came to assist her off her front porch.

The woman was not injured at all. However, her two cats did not survive the fire.

"Fire officials determined the fire originated in the living room from an electrical malfunction in the outlet causing an arc," the Lafayette Fire Department said in a release. "The heater was being utilized in the window unit. The arc ignited curtains draping over it. The fires quickly spread to other combustible materials in the home."

Based on their investigation, they ruled the fire accidental.

Heating Equipment and House Fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating devices are one of the leading causes of house fires during the winter months. Via the NFPA website:

  • Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes. Local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 48,530 fires involving heating equipment each year in 2014-2018. These fires resulted in annual losses of 500 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage.
  • Heating equipment caused one in seven home structure fires (14%) that took place in 2014–2018 and 19% of home fire deaths.
  • The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (25%) was failure to clean, principally from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
  • Over half (54%) of the home heating fire deaths were caused by having heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.
  • A vast majority of home heating fire deaths (81%) involved stationary or portable space heaters
  • Nearly half (48%) of all home heating fires occurred in January, February, and December.

It's always important to make sure that your equipment is working properly and, when in doubt, have a professional check the equipment, as well as all your wiring.

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