PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) – A Petersburg mother and her two young children are recovering after being injured in a house fire on Friday morning. It happened around four o'clock in the 1400 block of Custer Street.
The fire started on the second floor of the home. The cause is electrical. Investigators say a power strip cord was overloaded with appliances including a space heater.
The space heater was inside the bedroom of two toddlers. It was on high.
Neighbor Shaun Mason says smoke poured from the home.
"It was coming from the top window and out of the front door," said Mason.
Investigators say the mother inside the burning home woke up, yelled for help, grabbed her kids and passed them over a railing to a man inside the house. Neighbor, Lucille Lyons, heard the commotion and looked out her window.
"I said 'oh my lord there's a fire over there,'" she said.
Signs of a fire at the house are subtle on the exterior. A window screen is pushed out. There's a pile of torched items in the yard and a notice on the porch that deems the home unlivable.
Lyon's says she's known the family for years and that the mother is a teacher at Petersburg High School and the toddlers are twin girls.
"I think she's a wonderful mother to her twins. She's very affectionate to those kids," said Lyons.
Fire officials say when using a space heater it's best to plug it directly into a wall outlet and to use a surge protector for other electronics and appliances.
"When there's a surge in that cord - the power goes to the circuit breaker and electricity is not allowed to that area," said Captain Jeffrey Fleming with Petersburg Fire Department.
The mother and the toddlers involved in the fire suffered smoke inhalation. Investigators say the mother was also burned on her hands and feet. She's recovering at VCU Medical Center.
The fire has been ruled accidental. Investigators say a smoke detector was found on the second floor of the home. It's unclear if it was working.