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Space heaters, overloaded electrical circuits may be to blame in deadly house fire

Jermaine Rhodes.jpg
Posted at 5:45 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 17:45:09-05

DETROIT (WXYZ)  — "I just couldn't believe it. That's my brother," said Jamil Rhodes about 46-year-old Jermaine Rhodes who died in an early morning house fire Friday.

Jermaine lived with close friends at a house on Burns Avenue near Lambert Street on Detroit's east side.

Jermaine had one of the bedrooms on the second floor where it stayed warm so he didn't need a space heater, his sister told 7 Action News.

But some of his roommates did use space heaters. And fire investigators said the cause of the deadly blaze was electrical, pointing to overloaded circuits and space heaters.

"I got the call at 2:00 this morning from my cousin and she told me there was a fire over here at the house and my brother was trapped in here," said Jermaine's sister, Sahedia Rhodes-Currie. "He couldn't get out. He tried to make his way out and he got caught downstairs in the smoke and the flames."

Friday afternoon, Jermaine's siblings went to see what was left of the house he lived in for so many years.

"I'm just asking for prayers for my family," said Rhodes-Currie. "It was nobody that didn't like or love Jermaine. He brought the spark out of everybody. If you had a bad day, he'll make you smile, one way or another."

The Detroit Fire Department does not encourage or recommend the use of portable electric or kerosene heaters.

On the city's website where they list fire safety tips, they urge people to take precautions, including keeping portable heaters away from clothing, bedding, and furniture.

Click here to see their list of precautions and other fire safety tips.