MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - In the midst of a November cold snap, many people across Alabama turned on the heat for the first time.
For homeowners in one east Montgomery neighborhood, that flip of a switch sparked a fire that left their home in shambles and neighbors thankful the flames didn't spread.
A brick shell is all that's left of the home on Ridgeview Lane. Neighbor Sylvia Witte watched the flames consume the house.
"There was a big cloud that came towards my house and the wind was blowing and everything and then I saw the flames and the house was just going up. It was horrible," said Witte.
The fire started around Noon on Saturday. No one was home at the time but fire investigators say the homeowners turned their heat on for the first time which sparked the blaze.
"I thought I saw flames over Wal-Mart and I said no, I think that's a house back there," said eyewitness Dathan Ellis.
Nicole Bradley and Dathan Ellis saw the flames from Bell Road. They drove closer to get a better look.
"I'm surprised that the bottom is still there. I mean the whole top is gone, which is crazy, but there was a lot of smoke," said Bradley.
Wind sent burning debris flying through the neighborhood sparking some grass fires.
Witte and fellow neighbors cleared out of their homes.
"The houses are close together...so anything could have happened," says Witte.
While Witte's home was spared, others homes nearby did suffer some damage.
There was visible signs of siding, chimneys and roofs that had been melted by the heat.
Still neighbors are counting their blessings, thankful that the large fire didn't spread.
"It's something to think about. You don't ever know what tomorrow brings. The Lord was with us," added Witte.
Montgomery Fire Chief William Davis says heaters and space heaters are one of the biggest culprits behind house fires.
He mentioned several safety tips that could prevent this tragedy from happening to you:
- Make sure to have your heaters inspected by a professional on a regular basis
- When you turn your heat on for the first time,make sure and keep an eye on it for a while
- Keep anything considered flammable, and really anything at all, away from the heater
- If you have a fire place, make sure you keep a screen in front of it so burning embers don't pop out
- Never use your oven to heat your home
- Use common sense