Cause Can't be Determined

By: Damon Dillman
By: Damon Dillman

Fire marshals say the investigation into last week's fire at a local trailer park is finished. But they didn't find all the answers they were looking for.

"We know positively that the fire originated in a sofa, which had a portable space heater adjacent to it," Capt. John Huddle, assistant fire marshal for Rockingham County, said Tuesday.

But it isn't known how the fire started. And Huddle says that will never be determined.

"Typically what we'd be looking for is clues on the heater itself, clues in the wiring to the heater, clues in the wiring of the trailer," he explained. "Because of the extent of the damage we have here, those clues aren't available to us here for examination."

The fire completely destroyed three trailers and damaged several others.

Huddle says the damage from the fire would have been less if the homes weren't so close together. But he says the entire row of trailers outdates the county's minimum distance requirements between mobile homes.

The fire also left at least 20 people homeless for the holidays. The American Red Cross is helping the victims with their immediate needs, and on Tuesday the Salvation Army distributed presents to the children displaced by the fire.

And Huddle hopes others can learn a lesson from the tragedy - be careful with space heaters.

"Make sure that the wiring in your building is capable of handling the load that the heaters put on them, make sure that the heater itself is kept in good repair, and then also make sure that you maintain proper clearance around combustibles with the heater," he said.

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

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