Kerosene heater fire destroys home

Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

A house fire on Irvington Road in Kilmarnock last Monday erupted when a kerosene heater caught fire, according to Lancaster County building and fire official Ernie Sadler.

Three people, including one adult and two children, were home at the time but escaped without injury.

Volunteer firefighters from Kilmarnock and White Stone responded to the call at approximately 5:30 p.m. on April 1. Kilmarnock Volunteer Rescue Squad also responded. It took firefighters about 40 minutes to get the blaze under control but the home was destroyed, according to Kilmarnock VFD chief Roy Hall.

There was a heavy fire load in the bathroom and laundry room and heavy smoke and water damage throughout the house, he said.

Irvington Road was closed to thru traffic for about an hour and firemen remained on the scene until 8:30 p.m.

The fire remains under investigation, said Hall.

The homeowner had recently purchased fuel to add to the kerosene tank and mistakenly purchased gas, according to Sadler.

“With the gas added to the kerosene it caused the heater to catch on fire while trying to refill it,” he added. “We [looked] into where the gas was purchased, as a precaution, and found that the dispenser that was previously kerosene had been converted to non-ethanol gas back in 2017.”

According to Sadler, all the proper steps for the conversion were followed.

“The pump was checked and certified for its annual inspection by the Department of Agriculture in January of 2019,” he said. “It also seems that between the [time of the] inspection and the time that the customer purchased gas from this pump, someone had vandalized the pump and removed a sticker from one side that had marked the pump to its current fuel type.

“As a precaution we decided to release a public service announcement just in case someone else had also made this mistake,” added Sadler. “The store owner has been in full compliance and agreed to temporarily shut off the pump until they could have temporary signs put on the pump. They also have ordered all new stickers to mark the pump. The concern was that with the pump sticker marking the current fuel type being removed on one side and the tank previously containing a different fuel that other residents could have easily made the same mistake.”