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Space heater thawing pipes sparks fire, killing pets

By Steve Lyttle and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
slyttle@charlotteobserver.com cwootson@charlotteobserver.com
GRA1BCTI5.3
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A resident shot this photo Tuesday night of the fire that struck a home on Maitland Lane in east Charlotte.

No people were injured, but several family pets were killed in a two-alarm house fire Tuesday evening in east Charlotte.

The fire was sparked by an electrical short related to a space heater placed in the crawl space to thaw frozen pipes, according to a fire investigator.

The fire “was electrical in nature, but it wouldn’t have occurred had the heater not been down there,” said Assistant Fire Marshal Mike Petleski.

The fire was reported about 9 p.m. at a residence in the 7300 block of Maitland Lane, in a neighborhood off Reedy Creek Road.

Fire officials said the four residents were not home at the time of the fire. More than 40 firefighters battled the blaze, and the first-responding crews found the house engulfed in flames when they arrived. Neighbors had spotted the blaze and called 911.

Authorities say several cats and dogs that belonged to the family were inside the house and died in the blaze.

The American Red Cross provided help for firefighters, who battled the blaze in 18-degree weather.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107
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