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ONLY ON 3: Family hopes fire that damaged home can be a lesson to others

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Family hopes fire that damaged home can be a lesson to others

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- A Brunswick County family is still picking up the pieces and cleaning up from a weekend house fire that damaged their home. Now they want to tell their story in hopes of possibly preventing a similar incident for others.

Besides the debris outside the Hewett family's yard you might not know this home suffered a fire on friday, but it's easy to see inside.

"I heard like a frying sound, like a sizzling sound, so I knew something was going on, but I didn't know what," Tina Hewett said.

Hewett says she quickly called the Sunset Harbor Fire Department to investigate. Firefighters found the plugs where the Hewetts had a space heater connected were hot; advising the family not to use them, even shutting off power to the house.

The fire department scanned the entire home with a thermal imaging camera just to make sure, but found nothing. About four hours later Tina's husband Lee felt serious heat coming from the ceiling.

"I come to find out the whole time the fire had spread through my wall and my ceiling," Tina said.

Fire Chief John Eeten says when firefighters showed up a second time it was obvious the fire was a result of several electrical shorts. They also noticed someone had turned the power back on.

As the clean-up process continues for the Hewett family, the debris left behind serves as a reminder that the fire could have been worse by taking the entire home or also injuring a loved one.

"It could have been a lot worse, because my wife and my daughter was in the room asleep," Lee Hewett said. "I just thank God they're OK. It wasn't worse than what it really could be."

The Hewetts hope their story will serve as a cautionary tale for others who may run into similar electrical issues, especially when using heaters during the winter.

"Take the extra initiative to have it checked out," Lee said. "It's better to be safe than sorry."

The Sunset Harbor Fire Department says this is not the first time a fire has started from an outlet in which a space heater was connected. They say families using space heaters should make sure the plug they are using is properly wired and safe.

As for the the Hewetts, the family is currently staying with family as they wait for their insurance company to help out.

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One bit of advice for those

One bit of advice for those who use electric heaters. Make sure the prongs on the plug of the heater are clean and shiny. If not, take a piece of fine sandpaper and polish them. Make sure the plug fits reasonably tight into the wall recepticle. If it is loose, arcing will result, just like an arc welder, but on a smaller scale. This creates the heat that can start a fire. Replace the recepticle. After the heater has been on a half hour, unplug it and feel the prongs. If they are hot enough that they burn your finger....there is a problem. Being warm is normal, but hot is dangerous. Don't plug but one heater in on any one circuit. I never use over 1500 watts on a 15 amp service. On a 20 amp, probably 1800 watts, but the touch test still applies. If a circuit is overloaded, usually a breaker will trip. If there is a loose connection, there is a good chance of a fire before it will trip a breaker. Remember..if the plug is getting hot..there is a problem. Turn the appliance off and leave it off until the priblem can be found. Have a safe Christmas.

Brunswick Co Fire

Thermal imaging camera fail?