Heater used to thaw water pipes blamed for Portsmouth fire

'Flames started coming up through the side of the house, and breaking through the windows.'

PORTSMOUTH, Va. -- (WVEC) Fires are sparking up in these freezing temperatures.

One of the latest weekend fires in Hampton Roads was at a house on the 700 block of Lanier Crescent, in Portsmouth. Portsmouth Fire said the flames started because a propane heater was used underneath the house to the thaw water pipes.

The neighbor who called dispatch said, the fire spread quickly. 

“So, the first thing I did was grab my son, and call 911. Flames started coming up through the side of the house, and breaking through the windows,” said Darren Prue.

Next-door neighbors said a man named Joey and his girlfriend are renting the house. 

The Hughes family said they saw Joey trying to run back into the home at the time of the fire, to look for his girlfriend and her pet.

“He was black from head to toe [from] soot,” neighbor Jesse Hughes said, “Cops said, 'No you’ve got to get away from the house.'”

13News Now met Joey when he returned from the hospital.  Off camera, he told us he was renting the home from his brother.

Joey reassured us that he was going to be OK, and his girlfriend was not in the house at the time of the fire.

The fire department said they spent more than an hour to get this fire under control, but the house is now unlivable.

Joey told us he’s going to be staying with his brother for now.

© 2018 WVEC-TV


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