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February 12, 2012 - 7:06pm

Father saves baby son from smoke-filled room

posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Alabama.

A father saved his baby son today moments before the room where he was sleeping burst into flames.

Peter Dart was downstairs in a two-resident house at 7650 Macomber Road, Alabama, when he and his wife smelled smoke.

He rushed upstairs to his 13-month-old son's room. The room was filled with smoke, smoke so thick he couldn't see anything.

He had laid the toddler down for a nap just 30 minutes earlier.

Dart found the boy's crib just by memory, grabbed him, pulled him to his chest and rushed out of the house.

Investigators have determined the cause of the fire was related to an electric heater plugged into an extension cord.

The fire was reported by Dart's wife at 10:36 a.m. When the first firefighters arrived on scene from East Pembroke, the northwest corner of the 180-year-old house was fully engulfed in flames.

Lorna Klotzbach, a Town of Alabama Planning Board member, owned the house and lived in the other half.

The house sits in an area of Alabama without public water. Tankers were dispatched to the scene from 15 fire departments to draw water from creeks, ponds and the closest fire hydrant.

Many of the nearby ponds had frozen over in the past couple of days, making it harder to draw water from them, said East Pembroke Chief Don Newton.

"A good supply of water definitely would have helped," Newton said. "We ran out of water quite a few times. We did not have enough water to fight the fire to the best of our ability."

The entire second floor of the house was destroyed.

Newton said much of the first floor was saved, and the residents would be able to recover personal belongings from downstairs.

The wind and cold weather didn't help in fighting the fire, either, Newton said.

Dart's son was taken by private vehicle to UMMC and treated for smoke inhalation. Dart said he is doing fine.

At least four emergency responders suffered minor injuries related to the incident. One firefighter was transported to UMMC with a hand injury.

At least one of Klotzbach's three cats survived the fire and Lorna said her dogs escaped safely.

Responding to the scene, along with East Pembroke, were Alabama, Town of Batavia, Oakfield, Darien, City of Batavia's Fast Team, Pembroke, Indian Falls, Elba, Barre, East Shelby, Byron, South Byron, Alexander, Bergen, Attica, Wolcottsville, Mercy EMS and the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

CORRECTION: We initially reported the child was a girl. That was based on what I thought for sure was the father saying "she" when I interviewed him. Even after reviewing the tape, that's what I thought I heard; however, there is some wind on the recording. Another, reliable source assures me the child is a boy. The story has been changed accordingly.

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Initial report posted here.

Mardell Lamb
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My heartfelt thoughts and prayers going out to these families. What a terrible tragedy. And God bless the emergency personnel.

Don Vickers
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Thank goodness no serious injuries. This is a terrible loss of a beautiful house. Thank you to all the Emergency personnel that took part in fighting this fire.

Lorna Klotzbach
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Many thanks to God for our safety and many thanks to all of the firemen, friends, neighbors and to my family for helping me today when my house burned up. I am so glad that I live in a rural area where people come from near and far to offer such practical and warm-hearted assistance. Thank you to all who have helped so far and to all of the others who have offered to help in the future. Thank you.

DOUGLAS MCCLURG
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Great coverage on the story..God bless the family and all that participated In the firefighting..

mike vinci
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People need to be made aware of the dangers of these heaters. We were using two name brand heaters, this being the second winter. After checking for an unusual odor, we found the electrical outlet completely black and melted. We turned it off when we weren't home, but not while sleeping. Needless, to say, you never know. This was a 300 dollar heater, sold everywhere and I'm positive, are in many homes in the area. I refuse to use them again. A larger fuel bill vs no house or loss of a loved one? You do the math.

John Woodworth JR
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Mike, what was brand name? Was it those Amish promoted heaters?

John Roach
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Don't use electric heaters with an extension cord, period.

C. M. Barons
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Electric space heaters are high-current drawing appliances (8 - 15 amps). That is why they come with relatively short power cords. Employing an extension cord is not recommended- especially one with wire under 10 gauge or longer than 6 feet. The draw from these heaters produces heat in the cord. Long cords or cords with small gauge wire get hotter. Even the factory-installed cord will feel warm from use. Due to the manner in which molded plugs are manufactured, some can be faulty. If a fault exists, normal usage will often make the fault worse leading to a burn at the outlet (see comment #6). The brand of appliance is immaterial; any cord has the same chance of being suspect. I highly recommend cutting off molded plugs on high-current appliances and replacing them with a good quality, 20 amp plug. Heater cords should be regularly inspected. If the cord feels excessively warm during operation or shows signs of heat distortion, don't use it. Leaving any space heater unattended is risky; if the bedroom is cold, get an extra blanket.

Despite damage to the house, this story had a happy ending.

mike vinci
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It was an Eden Pure Gen 3.John. I used no extention cord and it was on a separate line with it's own breaker. We used it last year and this year until now. A lot of people had the same problem and some even had the face of the heater melt.The company sent service approval to send it back. I have another one too, which I'm gun shy of using. It just scared the hell out of me to see that outlet burned like it was. I MEAN TOASTED AND BURNT RIGHT THROUGH. The outlet box was mounted outside on the back of our built in entertainment center. In the wall and we probably would have lost the house

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