Space heater blamed in fatal fire near Perry

Space heater blamed in fatal fire near Perry

lfabian@macon.comDecember 15, 2013 

A space heater caused a late night house fire that killed a 55-year-old Houston County man Saturday night.

Kenneth Lumpkin was found dead in a room near the front door of his home at 106 Anna’s Way in the Lake Joy Village near Perry, Houston County Fire Chief Jimmy Williams said.

The heater malfunctioned in a back room of the house on a cul-de-sac not far from Lake Joy Road.

“It caught the curtains on fire and that vented up into the attic which caused major destruction and damage,” Williams said.

Investigators from the fire department and Houston County Sheriff’s Office sifted through the debris Sunday before determining how and where the fire started.

By the time a neighbor called 911 about 10:15 p.m. Saturday, the flames were already raging, Williams said.

Flames tore through the roof with heat so intense it melted the siding on the neighbor’s house and the door handles and trim of a Toyota Corolla parked near the driveway.

“When the first truck got there... he thought he might have been too close to start blistering the paint on the truck,” Williams said. “It was fully involved.”

Most of the house was gutted. The roof came crashing down on a charred vehicle parked in the garage.

Lumpkin’s wife was not at home when the fire started, so he was the only one in the house, Williams said.

“As far as what happened and what he was doing, that’s unknown,” Williams said.

An autopsy is expected Monday morning, he said.

Antonio Lumpkin, the victim’s son, said his father was recently retired from his job as an industrial mechanic at Robins Air Force Base.

Lumpkin said his father did not mention specific plans for retirement, but wanted to “just sit back and relax.”

Members of the Lumpkin family stood on the street and in the backyard Sunday as investigators combed through the rubble of the house blocked off by yellow tape.

Williams urges everyone to use caution with all heaters. Make sure systems are serviced regularly and portable heaters should be examined for possible fraying of the cord.

“If it is a space heater, the name indicates exactly what it needs,” he said. “It needs a lot of space around that space heater; no combustible materials or anything else next to it.”

To contact Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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