Firefighters say item caught fire near oven, causing house fire

by: Ken Lemon Updated:

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CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. - Freezing temperatures caused problems for firefighters trying to put out a fire in Cleveland County. It started when a family turned on their stove just to stay warm.

Melissa Shuford said she was on the couch when the smoke alarm woke her Tuesday morning.

"I thought I was burning," she said.

She made it out in time, but she and her family can't live there anymore.

Shuford said losing the house is like losing part of herself. She feels like she built it herself, so when the furnace broke two years ago, she didn't call a repairman she wanted to fix it herself.

The furnace wasn't working Monday night when the temperatures dipped to record cold.

Fire investigators said someone in her family of six turned on the stove to warm the house.

"Cold enough to get that kitchen warm," she said.

The heat ignited an item left close to the stove.

"Your heart goes out to them. They are just trying to stay warm," said Chris Stowe with Crowders Mountain Volunteer Fire Department.

Investigators said using a stove to heat a home is a bad idea.

Those same sub-freezing temperatures caused problems for firefighters.

"We fight fire with water. Water freezes," Stow said.

With the temperature at 18 degrees, water shooting from the hose froze on the ground, creating slick spots around the house and areas where fire fighters needed to go to put out the fire.

A Channel 9 reporter saw firefighters lying on the roof so they wouldn't lose their footing on slick spots on the roof.

"I'd be lying if I said it didn't slow our response time a little bit, but you are talking about seconds instead of minutes," Stowe said.

Shuford and her family are getting help from the Red Cross.