Woman Hurt After Kerosene Heater Ignites Fire

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

December 21, 2005

A Scottsville woman trying to fight against the bone-chilling temperatures Wednesday morning is now in the hospital after causing a fire in her trailer home.

"This is a rural area and has no established water supply with the hydrants. We had some frozen valves, and so forth that we had to deal with," said Dan Eggleston, Chief of the Albemarle County Fire Department.

Firefighters spent Wednesday morning battling a trailer fire that some say was started when a kerosene heater exploded.

"Of course, me and my sister we both left frantically, and came to our mother's place. It's basically gone," said Thelma Bryant, the sister of the fire victim.

Officials say it took over 30 firefighters nearly an hour to bring the Glenridge Lane blaze under control. Thelma's sister, Diana Parker was injured and taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center, suffering from smoke inhalation. The home is believed to be a total loss.

"Devastated. It's the last remembrance that we have of our family--of our mom and dad--so it's pretty hurtful, but our sister is alright," said Bryant.

The trailer was home to Thelma a year ago. Until Wednesday, it served as the home for her sister Diana. The trailer provides lots of memories to her since it was a family home over the years. This fire ignites another memory from a fire in the same home almost 30 years ago.

"The last time the house caught fire, there is a pond right [behind me], they dragged water out of that," said Bryant.

This fire Thelma understands. She explained how it happened.

"She was trying to light a kerosene heater, and it blew up in her face. I guess that disoriented her," said Bryant.

Knowing what to do were two neighbors who helped pull Diana out of the burning trailer, and firefighters from five departments working with a limited supply of water.

Firefighters knew the area was rural, and prepared tankers to assist with the blaze, but the cold weather made it difficult.

Fire authorities remind those using space heaters to read and follow all directions carefully.

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