Man killed in Butler County house fire likely started by space heater

Credit: Journal News

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Crews battle fatal house fire in New Miami

Credit: Journal News

A morning fire in a New Miami house that lacked electricity killed a man, officials said Thursday afternoon.

New Miami Assistant Fire Chief Jim Lakes said the state fire marshal’s office was unable to determine a cause of the blaze reported at 7:02 am. in the 1500 block of North B Street.

The victim’s name has not been released.

But Lakes said he guessed the fire may have been caused by a space heater, which was using electricity run through an extension cord from a nearby property. The house was filled with probably more than a dozen lawnmowers, as well as motorcycles and snow blowers, he said.

Five tankers were used for the fire: New Miami, St. Clair, Wayne and Milford townships and Seven Mile.

“The person that owned the house, he knew that he was there,” Lakes said. “He kind of let him live there, but there was no electric.

“It had been going pretty good by the time we got there.”

The cause “was never determined,” Lakes said. Three investigators for the state fire marshal “went through everything, and they couldn’t determine a cause.”

Hamilton firefighters were first to arrive.

“That’s very close to the border between Hamilton and New Miami,” Hamilton Fire Chief Mark Mercer said. “Our crews were the first ones there. They put water on the fire as soon as they got there, had to set up a tanker operation to shuttle water in — there’s no fire hydrants out there — and it was heavily involved, if not fully involved, about the time we showed up.”

The property was a total loss, Lakes said.

“I pulled my guys out because the floors were burnt so bad, they were burning all the way through. We didn’t want accidents. We pretty much fought it from outside. It was a big loss by the time we got there,” he said.

Lakes said the blaze demonstrates the dangers of living somewhere that lacks electricity.

Hamilton officials in particular have been focusing on securing vacant buildings because of the dangers they pose, especially when people who aren’t supposed to be there are inside.

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