NewsPinellas County


Family blames space heater for fire that destroyed home in St. Pete

Posted at 4:39 AM, Dec 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-11 10:15:10-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A mother in St. Pete is warning others of the dangers associated with space heaters after her family was displaced due to a house fire. 

Eight people were home, cooking Sunday dinner when the fire started on 21st St. South in St. Petersburg. Everyone made it out unharmed, but everything inside the home was destroyed, including the kids' Christmas presents.

"I just lost everything, less than seconds, it's crazy," Jahmeshia Jackson said.

A fire started in one bedroom of their home Sunday afternoon.

"Kicking the doors down, trying to grab whatever I can, I couldn't grab nothing because there was so much smoke, I got my kids out first, that's all that matter my kids out first," Jackson said.

Jackson said a space heater started the fire. Fire officials are still investigating the cause.

But experts warn, you just plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. Don't use extension cords. Keep your heater three feet from anything that could catch fire. Don't use older models.

"A lot of the newer ones have what they call a tip switch, if they get knocked over or tipped over, they'll turn themselves off automatically," Lt. Steve Lawrence with St. Pete Fire said.

Nearly everything Jackson own, now gone, including furniture she just paid off and gifts for her kids.

"I was done Christmas shopping, I was done," Jackson said.

But a sliver of peace emerges from Jackson's charred home, her baby's ashes. Her little girl stopped breathing and died nearly a year ago.

"I feel better I got my baby ashes, can't nothing replace this," Jackson said.

Now her family shares their own warning about space heaters.

"Unplug them I don't care if you're sitting in the house, not in the room, unplug them, point blank don't use them they're not safe," Jackson's mother said.  "They're not safe at all," Jackson said.