Family warns others about space heater safety

Hewett family loses 2 pets in house fire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As cold temperatures fall on northeast Florida, many homeowners choose to turn up their heat by plugging in a space heater. 

A Jacksonville Beach family learned Wednesday that it's important to be careful when using a space heater. 

The Hewett family lost their home as a result of a fire that was sparked by a space heater. 

"I was laying on the couch in the other room and the smoke detector, thank goodness, it went off. And when I jumped off, I saw the four foot flames and I tried to put it out, as much as I could, and it just wasn't going out. It's an old house and it just lit up like a firecracker," said David Hewett.  

Hewett and his family have nothing left of their home on 1st Street. Although two family pets were lost in Thursday's fire, Hewett said he's just thankful to be alive. 

"I lost my 14-year-old chihuahua and my exotic bird, and I don't know what we're doing to do. I just don't know. It's right before Christmas, and I just don't know what to do," said Hewett.  

Paul Davis Restoration is working to restore the home, but estimates the damage at more than $100,000. Peter Vastyan with Paul Davis Restoration said they see fires like this too often during the cold weather months.  

"It's several times a week that we have fires, especially in the winter time that are caused from heaters," said Vastyan. "Open flame heaters do cause a lot of damage. There are much safer ways of doing it. I just really warn people to be much more careful with open flame and use more of a concealed, like an oil based heater, where it just circulates the warm oil and it won't actually light anything on fire." 

The Red Cross is helping the Hewett family find a place to stay for the next three nights. 


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