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Name, cause of fatal fire released

Fire caused by portable heater

A fire that killed one person in South Point early Thursday morning was caused by a portable electric heater, the Ohio Division of State Fire Marshal has determined.

The fire was reported at a mobile home at 183 Township Rd. 1031 at approximately 3:30 a.m. Michelle L. Bradshaw, 38, who lived at the home, died in the blaze.

According to the fire marshal’s office, the most probably cause of the fire was clothing left too close to a portable electric heater.

Portable heaters have contributed to the cause of six of the eight fire-related deaths in Lawrence County this year, including a blaze that claimed five lives in Pedro earlier this month.

That fire started near a portable heater but may have been caused by an electrical malfunction or overloaded extension cord, the fire marshal’s office ruled. The possibility that the heater itself caused the fire was not ruled out, either.

Home heating and electrical problems are among the leading causes of fatal residential firehomes. According to statistics provided by the fire marshal’s office, over a five year span ending in 2009, of the fatal fires in Ohio when a cause could be determined, home heating accounted for 7 percent of fire deaths, compared to 14 percent with smoking, 9 percent with arson, and electrical at 9 percent.

Shane Cartmill, public information officers for the state fire marshal, offered some advice for using electric heaters.

“The most important thing is number one, use them as little as possible, and number two, if you do use them, make certain you have them at least three feet from anything that will burn, clothing, magazines and curtains,” Cartmill said. “And then the third thing is to use a heater with a tip over switch.”

The switch automatically turns the heater off in the event it falls over.

Cartmill added that people should not overload outlets including those connected to heating systems.

Thursday’s fire completely destroyed the home.

It has not been determined if the home was equipped with smoke detectors.