58-year-old Man Killed in Appomattox House Fire

Appomattox, VA - Officials say a Herman Bradford Randolph, 58, was killed in the fire in Appomattox Wednesday morning.

Appomattox firefighters say they've seen a serious spike in structure fires in the new year, and they're urging everyone to check their homes for possible hazards.

At any given moment, a home can be full of fire dangers. The day after the fatal on Sunnydale Avenue, a singed kerosene heater sits inside the front door.

"Everyone is trying to stay warm during these months," said Jonathan Garrett, assistant chief of the Appomattox Volunteer Fire Dept.

Jonathan Garrett is the assistant fire chief with the Appomattox Volunteer Fire Department. He doesn't know if that heater sparked the fire, but he does know of another item in the home that made it especially difficult to fight.

"There were some parts to a chainsaw that caused a magnesium explosion," said Garrett.

He says the metal on the chainsaw heated up and reacted when the water hit it.

"It caused an upburst of sparks that made things difficult initially," said Garrett.

This was the fifth structure fire in Appomattox County in the new year. All but one were residential.

"It's just tragic," said Sheriff Barry Letterman.

"That's way more than normal," said Garrett.

To keep that number from climbing, Garrett suggests simple fire prevention tips.

"Make sure you've got smoke detectors, check your chimneys regularly and make sure you don't have power strips overloaded," said Garrett.

He also suggests checking the batteries in those smoke detectors and keeping flammables away from space heaters.

"I could go the rest of the year and not have a single call. But I know it won't happen. But all I can say is just be careful," said Garrett.

There have been a number of structure fires all over Central Virginia this year, from Farmville to Montgomery County. The causes have varied, from electrical to a grease fire in a kitchen. For tips on fire safety, click here.

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