Gaston & Catawba

Father saves daughter from burning home

A father rescued his 1 1/2-year-old daughter from a burning house in the Crowders Mountain section of western Gaston County on Monday evening, authorities said today.

According to Gaston County Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Michaleski, Keith French, 24, was mowing the lawn at his home on Holly Hills Drive around 8 p.m. when his 2-year-old son, who was also in the yard, began yelling.

French spotted a small fire on the floor of a storage room in the carport and tried to put it out, Michaleski said. French ran inside the house and grabbed his daughter.

Meanwhile, the fire had spread from the storage room that housed a hot water heater along with such materials as plastic and combustible liquids. The blaze eventually worked its way throughout the house.

It took firefighters about 45 minutes to contain the blaze. Michaleski said the fire apparently started when the hot water heater's open flame ignited liquids in the storage area. He estimated damages at about $100,000.