Space Heater Fire Kills Midland Man

Space Heater Fire Kills Midland Man

by Kim Powell

NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - It was a frigid Friday morning, a familiar sight in the basin lately. As firefighters took over the 800 block of Michigan Avenue they knew it was going to be a rough day.

"So this was, yeah, very sad for us. A fire's a tragedy anyway but to have a fatality it's very, very sad and heartbreaking for the fire department and the community in itself," David Hickman, City of Midland Fire Marshall, said.

It's the first deadly fire in Midland since 2012. Smoke clouded nearby streets as firefighters attempted to put the flames out. Crews were out investigating for several hours and Red Cross responded to help the grieving family.

"We also are able, as an organization, to offer follow-up counseling when there is such a major loss like this. It's not just property it's a loved one," Jim Longstreet, a Red Cross volunteer, said. "This is what we do--we care. And we're glad to be able to be here and be available to folks like this in need."

Firefighters found 51-year-old Kerry Arnett in a bathroom located in a separate apartment attached to the house. He was rushed to the hospital, but didn't make it. Investigators say a space heater that was sitting by combustible material started the fire.

"You know, a fire can happen to anyone," Hickman said. "That's why we encourage people to have working smoke detectors in their home and space heaters that have adequate clearance and other heat sources, monitor those, and call 911 early."

Authorities also want to remind everyone to keep all heating equipment at least three-feet away from other objects, and never leave a space heater unattended.