Home burns down, warning continues about kerosene in Alexander C - | WBTV Charlotte

Home burns down, warning continues about kerosene in Alexander Co

(Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV) (Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)
ALEXANDER COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

Doshia Smith feels like she is lucky to be alive after her kerosene space heater exploded Tuesday night. 

"It just blew up," she said. Her home was destroyed, and she and her son barely escaped the flames. 

Investigators said they smelled gasoline at the scene, and as they looked into the cause they determined the fire started from gasoline - not kerosene - being put in the heater. 

After questioning the family investigators went down the road to All American Raceway convenience store. There, they found a pump that had been used for kerosene for years, but six months ago was switched to non-ethanol gasoline. 

Charles Smith said that's where their kerosene container was filled up Monday.

"I didn't smell no gas," he said. 

The pump itself is the same one that was used before for the kerosene. Labels had been painted over and a small Ethanol sticker was placed over the word Kerosene. A banner above the pump touts the fact that the store sells non-ethanol gas, but Fire Marshal Russell Greene said it doesn't make clear which pump has it. 

Greene said what happened to the Smith family was a "miscommunication." He is afraid that others have filled up their kerosene containers there too in recent days. 

"Anyone who thinks they bought kerosene here lately needs to check it before using it," the fire marshal said.

Greene said kerosene has a distinctive smell and look, and if someone has any suspicions at all they should not use it.

"It can be very dangerous in a space heater," he added.

The owner of the store, Sam Lakhani, said he thought he had put sufficient word out in ads and signs so there would be no mistakes. He said he will do more. 

"Put more signs up to get more people's attention," Lakhani said.

Meanwhile, Doshia said she lost everything in the fire and is not sure what she will do next. She did not have insurance.

Charles said he thinks the store or someone should step up. 

"Somebody is going to rebuild this," he said. "Somebody's going to."

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