Fire that claimed 14 year-old life may have been caused by a space heater

PROVIDENCE (KATV) - Authorities continue to investigate a fire that gutted a mobile home and killed a 14 year-old boy. Two other children survived the deadly blaze.

The fire happened at 393 Graham Road in the small community of Providence, located just north of Searcy. The fire was called into 911 in the early morning hours of Sunday by a neighbor after two of the children who escaped the fire went next door to tell them what was happening.

When firefighters got on scene they understood there may be one more child still inside the home.

"A young man who was sixteen and a young lady who was ten years old, both of them were siblings reported to have lived there, said they didn't believe that their fourteen year-old brother had made it out of the house," said Chief Deputy Phillip Miller, White County Sheriff's Department.

Fire crews from both the North White County Volunteer Fire Department and Rocky Point Volunteer Fire Department were on scene within minutes of receiving the emergency call, but Miller said, "a structure of this type can become fully engulfed in flames in just a matter five or six minutes."

When the flames were put out, firefighters did eventually discover the middle child dead in what they believed was a bedroom of the home. The body was transported by White County Coroner David Powell and will be sent to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for an autopsy and identification.

According to Miller, the deceased teenager attended White County Central Junior High School.

Due to the extent of the fire, authorities have not be able to determine the actual cause of the fire but the two surviving children had reported turning on a space heater before the fire occurred. Miller said space heater fires will become more common as we head into the winter months.

"We just caution people to have space heaters checked out," said Miller. "Make sure they're in working order; make sure it's appropriate for the area that it's in, because unfortunately these kinds of accidents happen."

The two surviving children are with their father tonight who was not home at the time of the incident according to Miller. He said the father said he had gone to spend the night at this girlfriend's home not thinking there would be a problem.