An electric blanket used by a Missouri woman to stay warm during last week’s deep freeze may have caused a fire that led to her death, according to officials.
According to FOX4 Kansas City, Lucille West, 96, died Friday at a local hospital after she was found unconscious at her home in Lone Jack, Missouri, by firefighters responding to the blaze.
Lone Jack Fire Chief David Kelsey said West lived directly across the street from the fire department and firefighters were able to respond quickly. The flames and smoke were so intense, however, that the elderly woman did not survive.
Kelsey believes the deadly fire was started by her electric blanket.
“She had limited sources of heat within her house,” Kelsey said. “She was using a natural gas space heater and some other electric heaters and a few electric blankets to keep warm at night.”
The 96-year-old also had no smoke detectors in her home, the fire chief told FOX4 reporters.
Electric blanket may have sparked Missouri fire that killed 96-year-old woman https://t.co/IhcCWPF0nt
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Neighbor John Cimino told reporters that when temperatures drop dramatically, he resorts to similar methods to keep his home warm.
“It is very difficult, especially if you have electric heat,” Cimino said. “I’ve lived with gas heat my whole life, and electric heat is completely different. It doesn’t keep you near as warm.”
Another neighbor Ryan Gardner said the fire that took the woman’s life has stunned the small community, located about 30 miles southeast of Kansas City.
“It is hard as a community because, here in Lone Jack, we’re pretty tight-knit community, and everybody knows everybody and everybody’s business. It’s sad,” Gardner told Fox4 reporters.
Kelsey called West’s death a “big loss.”
“Just seeing her on a day-to-day basis as I go in and out between the office and home—when the weather’s decent, she’s almost always outside, and we`ll exchange, if nothing else, a wave as I pass by,” Kelsey said.
“She will be missed,” he said.