Woman dies in house fire

Officials are investigating the cause of a house fire that claimed the life of a Big Spring woman early today.Dora Lewis, no age given, was declared dead at Scenic Mountain Medical Center from injuries sustained in the fire, Big Spring Fire Marshal Carl Condray said.Fire and emergency medical service units responded to the 900 block of E. 12th Street at approximately 3:40 a.m. today to find a residence fully engulfed by flames. The fire was brought under control within an hour, but firefighters remained on the scene until shortly after 6 a.m. to guard against flare-ups.No other injuries were reported in the incident, Condray said.The victim's house was described as a total loss, but no other property sustained significant damage, officials said.Condray said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but preliminary indications are that it was accidental.“It appears that there were combustibles that came in contact with a space heater and that's what caused the fire,” he said. “But that's very preliminary at this time.”Condray urged people to use extreme caution when using portable appliances to heat their homes.“People need to be very, very careful (when using space heaters),” Condray said. “Although they can be used quite safely, under the wrong set of circumstances, they can be deadly.“During this time of year, people need to exercise caution with these appliances,” he added. “If they don't maintain a clear space around the heater and allow air to circulate, there can be a fire.”This marks the second fatal house fire in Howard County within the past month. Petra Arguello, 60, and her 9-year-old grandson Jacob were killed when their Coahoma residence was consumed in a Nov. 13 blaze.