Authorities have identified the victim of a fatal mobile home fire in the southwest Iowa town of Blockton. Seventy-four-year-old Kenneth Leroy Nielsen died of smoke inhalation according to an autopsy report. John Ticer, a special agent with the State Fire Marshal’s office in Council Bluffs, says two mobile homes on the property were destroyed in the fire, making it difficult to determine the exact cause of the fire.
“However, during the investigation one of the things that was determined was that a lot of the electrical service for the home that was being lived in was being run off of extension cords throughout the structure,” Ticer said. “Additionally, we know he had up to eight space heaters that were plugged into those extension cords.”
The fire was reported to Taylor County dispatch just after 5 a.m. Monday. Ticer says the incident should serve as a reminder to Iowans to be careful with the use of supplemental heating sources in their homes. “Eight supplemental heating sources in a home is somewhat excessive when we look at how that taxes the electrical system – particularly in this case where a lot of the space heaters were run off extension cords rather than being plugged directly into an outlet,” Ticer said.
“That just stresses the electrical system and the supplemental heating sources themselves.” A total of 33 Iowans have died in structure fires this year according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety. That compares to 46 in 2009. Ticer says the cause of the fire will be listed as “undetermined” but the space heaters and extension cords likely played a role.