Gaston authorities say lawnmower caused house fire Friday near Mount Holly

A lawnmower has been identified as the source of a fire that heavily damaged a house near Mount Holly Friday afternoon, authorities said.

David Toomey, chief of the Lucia Riverbend Fire Department, said that a man was vacuuming leaves in his yard on Oakmont Road while his wife was at work and later parked the mower in the basement.

When the man went upstairs for a snack, Toomey said he heard smoke alarms go off. The homeowner didn’t see or smell anything until he headed back downstairs and saw smoke boiling up.

“He tired to extinguish the fire with a garden hose, but it blazed up,” Toomey said. “He’d left his cellphone in the basement so a neighbor dialed 911.”

Toomey said it took 30 firefighters more than an hour to bring the blaze under control. There were no injuries. The house was a total loss.

According to Toomey, the county fire marshal said the lawnmower had been extensively burned and was the source of the blaze.

“There could have been a gas leak,” he said. “There was gas stored in the basement.”

The man and his wife, whose names weren’t available Saturday morning, spent the night with a neighbor, Toomey said.

He advised residents to make sure storage areas for mowers are well-vented. Also, he suggested letting mowers cool down before rolling them inside a storage area.