Space Heater Sparks Fatal North Carolina Fire

A house fire that apparently started with a space heater killed a Newton man and his daughter Monday.

Glenn Michael Carpenter, 64, and Dianne Carpenter, 41, died in a blaze at their home in the 2600 block of Old Conover-Startown Road, officials said.

Carpenter's wife, Ingeborg Carpenter, was also taken to the hospital, officials said. She was released later Monday, said Jerry Travis, deputy chief with the Newton Fire Department. Travis said he didn't know the extent of her injuries.

On Monday morning, Russell Menscer, a retiree who lives in a senior citizens' apartment complex across the street from the Carpenter home, was leaving for his daily breakfast rendezvous with friends when he smelled -- and then saw -- smoke coming from nearby.

Menscer drove toward the smoke, and a woman ran out of the house and told him others were inside, he said. He called 911 from his cell phone, he said.

The Newton Fire Department received a report of the blaze at 7:46 a.m., Travis said and learned that two people might be in the house.

When firefighters arrived at the house, they located the victims, and emergency workers took the three family members to the hospital, officials said.

A preliminary investigation found that the fire started with a space heater that had been placed too close to a sofa and a chair, Travis said.

Thirteen-year-old Elizabeth Haney, who spent Sunday night with her grandparents at the senior citizens' apartment complex, woke up Monday to the wail of sirens and peered out a window, she said.

"I saw the smoke coming out, and it was horrible," Elizabeth said.

A woman came in to the apartment to use the restroom and said she had awakened at home and smelled smoke and tried to wake up her daughter and husband, Elizabeth said.

She had blisters and was sooty, she said. The woman said she had tried to go back into the house for her husband and daughter but that the smoke was too much, Elizabeth said.

Menscer, who served 20 years as a volunteer firefighter in Iredell County, also wanted to try to get the others out, he said. But Menscer, who is almost 74, was turned back by smoke, too, he said.

Elizabeth and her family learned Monday afternoon that Glenn Carpenter and Dianne Carpenter had died. "Oh, Lord, help 'em, that's all I can say," said J.W. Stephens, Elizabeth's grandfather. "I thought they got out."