Child alerts family to Lakeland house fire; space heater blamed

Image 1 of 3

A family in Lakeland is counting their blessings after a fast-moving fire destroyed their home overnight. 

The Lakeland Fire Department said a space heater sparked the flames at the Savannah Avenue home just after midnight on Thursday.  The entire family was inside sleeping, but thankfully the youngest woke up from the smell of smoke.

“He smelled it, and then he said he felt the fire before he even opened his eyes.  And so he was in our room, and we tried to put it out, but it was already in the ceiling. There was nothing we could do,” said Maeghan Henderson. 

Maeghan, her husband Mike, and their 12-year-old son Milo watched helplessly as their memories and things burned.

The cinder block walls of the home gifted to Maeghan from her grandma are still standing, but the inside is completely destroyed.

Fire officials say the space heater in Milo’s room caused the intense blaze.

“We’ve had it for a year and we never had a problem with it, and last night he thinks that he might have just pushed it and he was half asleep and just went back to bed, and about an hour later he woke up and his whole room was, it was just so bright,” Maeghan said.

The smoke alarm closest to the bedroom wasn’t working.  It was a close call, and could have been much worse, but Maeghan says Milo saved their lives.

“I’m so thankful for him, Milo is our hero.”

In the face the tragedy, Maeghan still has a positive attitude.  She tells us the outpouring of support from friends and loved ones has been amazing.  She and her husband were also able to save some Christmas gifts that were stashed in a closet.

"We’re gonna get through this, we’ll build it back up, I’m not worried," said Maeghan.

The Hendersons plan to stay with a family member who lives nearby while they get to work gutting and rebuilding their home. A family member has started a fundraising effort.

Meanwhile, Lakeland fire officials say it's critical to take safety precautions if you plan to use a space heater.  Experts recommend inspecting the devices for frayed or broken connections before plugging it in, keeping it at least 3 feet away from anything flammable, including drapes or bedding, never leave space heaters unattended, and be sure to have smoke alarms installed and working.