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Space heaters possible cause of two house fires

LAWRENCEVILLE - Space heaters may have played a role in a pair of house fires Sunday.

No one was hurt in the blazes, but Gwinnett Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge said the fires provide a safety lesson during the winter, when home heating becomes an issue.

The lessons from Sunday's fires: Don't leave a space heater unattended and be sure to keep it away from flammable objects.

The first weekend blaze began in the early morning blaze in a basement near a space heater at 5548 Beechwood Drive in Stone Mountain.

A woman, who was awake when the fire broke out at 2:34 a.m., smelled an electrical burning odor and tried to save her cats before firefighters arrived, Rutledge said.

The fire caused heavy damage to the basement and moderate damage to a portion of the first floor of the two-story wood frame house.

Later that day, firefighters were able to quickly extinguish a bedroom fire that also may have been caused by a space heater.

No one was home when the fire broke out just after 4 p.m. at the 5900 block of Kay Drive in Norcross, but the damage in that room and smoke throughout the single-story wood frame house displaced a family of six, including four children, Rutledge said.

"It looks like the heater was left on and was sitting too close to a clothes basket," he said. On the space heater, he added, "it shouldn't be left on when you aren't at home, when you are not in the room and especially when you go to sleep."

Both fires have been ruled accidental.