BURNET — An investigator believes a kitchen stove used to warm a home might be to blame in a fire that destroyed the residence on Tate Street and prompted evacuations nearby, officials said.
Burnet Fire Rescue and the Burnet Volunteer Fire Department fought the blaze, which started about 9:30 p.m. Dec. 23 in a home in the 100 block of East Tate Street. Firefighters gained control of the fire in about an hour but remained on the scene for several hours overnight into Christmas Eve, investigators said.
“Unfortunately, they know they left the stove on,” Burnet Fire Marshal John Erskine said. “They were using the stove for heat, which was typical practice for them. They did not have another source of heat.”
Investigators said smoke woke the occupants of the house. Two adults — one of them a pregnant woman — escaped without injuries.
“Five total people have been displaced, but, at the time of the fire, there were only two people inside,” Erskine said. “Both of the occupants were transported to the hospital for observation. Red Cross was notified and offered them some assistance.”
Police asked residents nearby to leave their homes as flames leapt into trees on the property.
“We evacuated that block area. There were a lot of big trees around the house. The trees caught on fire … so they got everybody out,” Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson said. “Those firefighters worked extremely hard to prevent any damage. They were fighting an uphill battle. They didn’t save the house, but they kept it from spreading and injuring anybody.”
After the incident, officials stressed fire safety as the temperatures drop and more residents seek sources to heat their homes.
“Obviously, winter time. With the cost of everything going up, we see less people with central heat,” Erskine said. “Cooking appliances aren’t meant for heat. There are much easier ways to do that. The life you save might be your own.”