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Kerosene heater blamed for fatal Halifax fire

Posted November 2, 2011

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— Investigators in Halifax County believe a house fire that killed a 79-year-old Scotland Neck woman early Wednesday was caused by a portable kerosene heater.

Scotland Neck Fire Chief Patrick Stanton said Ella Lynch died in the fire at 502 E. Eighth St. Firefighters found Lynch's body in a bathroom at the rear of the house.

Family members said they heard Lynch, who lived alone, yelling for help but that they were unable to get into her home.

"I told her about that heater," daughter Patricia Lynch, who lives next door, said. "I told her to leave that heater alone."

Patricia Lynch said she had checked on her mother Tuesday evening before bed and that the heater was not on.

Firefighters were called to the home around 5:20 a.m., where witnesses described "explosive flames."

Lynch's death is the first from a fire in six years, Stanton said.

The medical examiner at Halifax Memorial Hospital will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of her death.


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  • Here2tellya Nov 3, 2011

    the fumes alone can kill you. RIP Ms. Ella.

  • redrubberball1 Nov 2, 2011

    There is nothing in this article that suggests the age or condition of this unit. Just as is true of most products, age, maintenance and careful use of products are important considerations. I have a portable kerosene heater for use during winter power outages like we experience during ice storms. They shouldn't be left running unattended but are much safer than many of these comments suggest.

  • Rebelyell55 Nov 2, 2011

    @anne53ozzy... Your right that they are dangerous, the manufacture put huge amounts of warning lables on them. They're not intended for extended use, which is one label that's not on them. They are used by the poor for heat. They do have maintance recommendation on them that most igorne. But sadly many people have to use them for heating purpose and those who don't have family who can service them and help use them are at risk. But it's not the manufacturer fault when a product is not used and maintained as recommended.

  • 007KnightRider Nov 2, 2011

    So sad. My thoughts and prayers are with the family. Those things are deadly and should be taken off the market.

  • anne53ozzy Nov 2, 2011

    Kerosene heaters are bombs and if not that incendiary devices most often left to the handling of the elderly and poor.
    If the manufacturers of these so called heaters cannot install devices to prevent addtions of fuel on the hot device or the lack of fuel expended when tipped, they must come off the market.

  • Tawny Nov 2, 2011

    Decades ago - it was called Halifax Memorial Hospital, Nighthawk

  • anne53ozzy Nov 2, 2011

    Don't know if this was a kerosene heater but, in my opinion, they need to be taken off the market or have a more stringent safety device that prevents filling when hot and tipover.

  • nighthawkcp Nov 2, 2011

    Not sure why Scotland County is listed as a related topic for this story. Also the ME is at Halifax Regional Medical Center, not Halifax Memorial Hospital.

  • Scubagirl Nov 2, 2011

    Condolences to those who loved her. Hopefully by reading this story some lives will be saved this winter.

  • gnewsome1 Nov 2, 2011