Man dies in heater fire

February 21, 2009 8:56:11 AM PST
Raleigh firefighters say a man trying to refuel a heater was badly burned and later died in a fire Friday.It happened at a home in the two thousand block of Millbank Street near North Raleigh Boulevard.

Investigators say 58-year-old Elvis "Banks" Pulley used gasoline instead of kerosene in a heater and it exploded. He was in the UNC burn unit on life support with burns over 50 percent of his body according to his family Friday. Elvis later died as a result of his injuries Saturday morning.

Investigators say it may have been an accident. A neighbor purchased fuel for Pulley on Thursday, but it was gasoline - not kerosene. The neighbor says Pulley asked for gasoline and was running a lawn mower at the time.

It's not clear if Pulley intentionally put gasoline in the heater or forgot what it was.

Firefighters said there was moderate damage to the home, but they managed to get the flames out before the house was destroyed.

"The vapors from the gasoline built up in the house causing a flash fire. There actually was not a tremendous amount of fire in the house upon the arrival of fire crews, but there is great evidence of a very intense and rapid flash fire," explained Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Styons.

Styons said the incident is a reminder of how dangerous kerosene heaters can be if they're not handled properly.

"The fueling of these things inside home to start with is a very unsafe practice, and then absolute care has to be taken that appropriate fuels are used at all times," he told Eyewitness News.


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