Heating unit to blame for house fire in Henrico

By Laura Geller - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - One person had to be rushed to the hospital Saturday morning because of a house fire in Henrico County.

The blaze broke out around 5:30 a.m. in the 5000 block of Dollard Drive in the West End.

That person was treated and released from the hospital after inhaling too much smoke.

The home has significant water and smoke damage so right now, the Red Cross is assisting one of the six victims.

The others are in the helping hands of friends and family.

But for neighbors, the sound of sirens was a frightening start to their Saturday morning.

"I ran to the den window and looked out and the whole street was lined with fire engines, rescue squads and police cars," said neighbor Janet Brown.

Brown lives next door to this home where fire officials say a malfunction in the crawl space furnace caused the blaze.

"I opened the door and went out of the front stoop and it was extremely scary because the smoke was just billowing out. I just saw billows and billows of smoke. I mean the smoke was so thick, you could not breathe out there," she said.

In the early morning hour, six people were in the home.

When fire crews arrived on scene here, two of the six occupants were still inside the house.

Fire officials say those two people were disabled and it doesn't appear there were evacuation plans in place.

They say that's one of the most important things to keep in mind when planning for your family.

To prevent a scene like this, testing your heating system before turning it on for the first time should also be tops on your winter check list.

"It's very important to recognize the fact that annual checkups are as important for your heating devices as they are for you as a person," said Henrico Fire Capt. Chris Buehren. "Have a service tech come out, do a good cleaning; do a good service check. Check the filter. Make sure the fuel is burning properly to make sure when you do cut that heater on it's going to work properly for you."

It's something the Browns do every year.

Today they're grateful none of their neighbors were seriously injured.

"I'm very thankful they're alright," she said. "I feel sorry for them."

While there were smoke detectors in the house, when firefighters arrived on scene this morning, they did not hear the alarm.

Officials want to remind residents to check the batteries in both the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

In these emergencies, early warnings save lives.

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