UPDATE: Chattanooga house fire that displaced family of 7 ruled - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Chattanooga house fire that displaced family of 7 ruled accidental

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A Chattanooga mother and her six children are without a home after a fire destroyed it on Saturday.

Firefighters arrived at the home on Dodson Avenue around 4:00 p.m.

"We lost everything. Just lost everything," Labrecia Dews, a mother of six said.

She and her kids just moved into the home a month ago. Now, the place they called home is destroyed.

Dews was laying in bed on Saturday when she smelled smoke.

"I got up, walked to the kitchen, and walked to the bedroom, opened the door and their bedroom was all fried up. Kids room was on fire," Dews said.

Dews has children as young as 7 years old. She's relieved none of them were in that room at the time.

Investigators ruled the fire as accidental. They said clothes and a plastic container were placed too close to a baseboard heater.

"It was real dark and smoky. I seen the flames and we just ran out the front door. We didn't have time to grab anything. We just ran out the front door," Dews said.

Firefighters put the fire out quickly, but it had already caused substantial smoke and water damage to the home. Most, if not all, of their belongings are gone.

The local Red Cross chapter is putting the family of seven up in a hotel for a couple of days. After that, they plan on staying with family members.

Dews is holding her children a little closer and is thankful no one was hurt.

"I'm grateful. I'm just happy we got out of the house in time," Dews said.

Dews alerted the property owner about what happened to the home. It's unclear if it was insured.

Ways to prevent heating-related fires:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
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