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Electric heater sparked fatal Winter Haven house fire

Posted: 12:50 PM, Jan 11, 2017
Updated: 2017-01-12 09:29:08-05
One dead in house fire in Winter Haven
One dead in house fire in Winter Haven
One dead in house fire in Winter Haven
One dead in house fire in Winter Haven

Polk County Fire Rescue said one person died in a structure fire at 3353 Timberline Road in Winter Haven.

Firefighters attempted to make a rescue after learning at least one person was inside the house, according to a Polk County Fire Rescue tweet.

Crews were dispatched to the scene just before 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Polk County Fire Rescue with assistance from Auburndale Fire Department were able to get the fire under control.

The victim has been identified as Donald Merkley, 67. 

The State Fire Marshal's Office has determined that the fire started in the living room of the home from a small electric heater. Investigators say a recliner chair located close to the heater caught fire. That fire then spread through the home. 

The Polk County Sheriff's Office says the death does not appear to be suspicious in nature. An autopsy will be done to determine cause and manner of death.