KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Bodycam video from a Kent County sheriff’s deputy shows the moment first responders arrived at the home on 48th Street east of Division Avenue early Monday morning.
Flames were rolling from the home as a deputy tried to account for anyone still inside.
“Hey, can you hear us?” the deputy yells out.
Firefighters also arrived on scene. Video shows a deputy helping a firefighter open the nozzle of a fire hose in an effort to douse the flames.
Of the 11 people inside the house when the fire was discovered just before 2:30 Monday morning, 9 made it out.
But 12-year-old Ashlee Duran and 19-year-old Nety Chavez were trapped by the fire. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators have ruled the fire accidental.
They haven’t figured out the exact cause, but their focus is on possible electrical issues that may involve a space heater found near where the fire started.
“That’s where having an electrical engineer come in and look at this is very important. So that will be the next step on the insurance end of thing, where they bring in an engineer to take a look at this,” Kentwood Fire Chief Brent Looman said.
National Fire Protection Association numbers show 40% of fires caused by home heating sources are tied to space heaters, and account for 84% of associated deaths and 75% of associated injuries.
The risk could be on the rise.
“I think people turn their thermostats down. I know our gas bill’s up there too. That does lead to a little more use of them,” Kentwood Fire Marshall Pat Quick said.
Fires related to home heating are most likely to occur in December, January and February, when use of alternative heating sources is most common.
Space heaters are often left too close to something that can easily catch fire, like furniture or curtains.
“We always recommend about 3 foot around, whether that be clothing, paper type products, whatever,” Quick said.
That’s not the only danger.
“They do draw a lot of power. And that’s where the danger comes in. It heats up everything in there because of the power they’re drawing,” Quick said.
Extension cords and power strips can overheat, sparking a fire.
“We never want to plug them into an extension cord, or a power step,” Quick said. “Go directly into the wall.”
As for the investigation, Kentwood’s fire chief says don’t expect any quick answers.
“We’re continuing our investigation. It won’t be a quick process,” Looman said.