Young girl fighting for her life after space heater fire


SPOKANE, Wash. -A little girl is fighting for her life in a Seattle burn unit after a heartbreaking accident  in east Spokane Tuesday. Investigators say it all started with something most of us have in our own homes.

Just after 3:30 p.m., firefighters got a call of a young girl and a woman with burns near Cataldo and Lee. When they arrived they found neighbors working on the two in the front yard of their home. The 5-year-old girl and her mom were immediately rushed to the hospital. The girl had life threatening burns to the majority of her body, the mother with significant injuries from carrying her.

Investigators believe a space heater caught the little girl's pajamas on fire and her mother was burned as she tried rescuing her.

The family, who is from the Republic of the Congo are now in Seattle with the mother and daughter.

The cause of the fire was ruled accidental and firefighters say as temperatures drop, more and more people use space heaters.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International offers the following safety tips when operating a space heater in your home:

  • Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
  • Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you're leaving a room or going to sleep, and don't let pets or children play too close to a space heater.
  • Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
  • Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
  • Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
  • Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
  • Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.

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