by: Ken Lemon Updated:
GASTONIA, N.C. - Investigators are blaming a heating system malfunction for causing a home to catch fire early Monday morning.
Firefighters arrived to find heavy fire and smoke coming from the roof of the house on Lowell Bethesda Road in Gastonia around 6 a.m.
Firefighters poured gallons of water and foam on a furnace in the attic of a house.
They took a picture from the rafters showing the gaping hole in the roof so big it showed the furnace from outside.
Kelly Shore said she and her family survived this fire because she suddenly woke up at 5:30 a.m.
"Looking back, I think it was the good Lord that woke me up," she said.
She heard strange banging noises. She didn't realize the gas furnace was on fire until she heard the unmistakable sound of fire.
"I could hear the crackling in the attic," she said.
She rushed to wake her husband and their 10- and 14-year-old children.
The family didn't realize how bad the situation was until they got outside and looked back.
"There was smoke everywhere outside and flames were shooting out of the top of the house," Shore said.
Investigators said the fire started with that furnace. They haven't determined what exactly caused it, but they worry there will be more fires like this one.
"Heating sources are the No. 2 causes of house fires," said fire safety coordinator Jim Landis.
Landis said the colder it gets, the more people rely on their furnaces to heat a home and too often there are problems with the system that the user will never see.
"They will be testing them out to the max with the cold weather," he said.
He said furnaces and chimneys should be checked before you use them, but it's not too late to have them inspected now, before something like this happens.