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The original item was published from 1/31/2023 9:10:00 AM to 1/31/2023 9:10:50 AM.

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Danville, VA Fire Department Media Releases

Posted on: January 30, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Update: Cause Determined - House Fire with fatality at 512 Lewis Street


The investigation at 512 Lewis St was determined it to be accidental. There were several extension cords feeding each other, including an electric fireplace. The investigation determined that the extension cords were overloaded.

The Danville Fire Department Fire Marshal's Office wants to remind the public the dangers of extension cords. 

Extension cords are intended for temporary use and should never be used to connect a major appliance.  The biggest concern with using an extension cord to power an appliance is using the wrong cord, which can lead to overheating of the cord, damage to the appliance, and increased risk of fire or electric shock.

Electrical Safety Foundation International (EFSI) offers many extension cord safety tips. Here are just a few:

  • Do not overload extension cords or allow them to run through water or snow on the ground.
  • Do not substitute extension cords for permanent wiring.
  • Do not run through walls, doorways, ceilings or floors. If cord is covered, heat cannot escape, which may result in a fire hazard.
  • Do not use an extension cord for more than one appliance.
  • Multiple plug outlets must be plugged directly into mounted electrical receptacles; they cannot be chained together.
  • Make sure the extension cord or temporary power strip you use is rated for the products to be plugged in, and is marked for either indoor or outdoor use.
  • The appliance or tool that you are using the cord with will have a wattage rating on it. Match this up with your extension cord, and do not use a cord that has a lower rating.
  • Never use a cord that feels hot or is damaged in any way. Touching even a single exposed strand can give you an electric shock or burn.
  • Never use three-prong plugs with outlets that only have two slots for the plug. Do not cut off the ground pin to force a fit. This defeats the purpose of a three-prong plug and could lead to an electrical shock. Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn't fit.
  • Buy only cords approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek (ETL) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

So, whether you are in a climate that has more of a need for an air conditioner, or a space heater, always practice fire safety when plugging in appliances!

- Assistant Fire Marshal Jay Thornton 


This morning, January 30th, 2023, at approximately 03:50 the Danville Fire Department was dispatched to a report of a structure fire at 512 Lewis Street.  Engines 1, 2, 3, 7, Ladder 1, Battalion 1, and Hazmat 2 responded to the incident.  Engine three was the first fire department unit on scene and upon their arrival, they found heavy fire and smoke coming from the house.  Engine three gave "working fire" orders via radio.  Engine three was informed of trapped victims in the house.  They immediately went to "rescue mode" and made entry into the home to retrieve the occupants.  They went through the fire room to get the woman trapped inside of her bedroom.  Once they found her, they brought her outside and began CPR.  The Danville Life Saving Crew (DLSC) assumed patient care and transported her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.  The other occupant escaped the burning home and refused treatment by fire personnel and the DLSC.  The house was searched twice for any other victims, none were found. The fire was then extinguished and an extensive investigation has been started by the Danville Fire Marshal's office.  Any further questions can be directed to the Fire Marshal's office.  

The Danville Life Saving Crew, the Danville Police Department, and the Danville Utilities Department were on scene to assist during the incident.  The DLSC provided care to the patient and also provided rehabilitation to fire department personnel.  The Utilities ensured there were no other hazards associated with their services.

- Battalion Chief William C. Smotherman

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