Resident of Gibson Street apartment said he used oven as heat supplement

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – One Siouxlander gave a first-hand account of what lead to a Sioux City apartment fire on Gibson Street that left several tenants homeless.

Kevin Warfield said he woke up to smoke and flames. He said what lead to the early morning fire should serve as a lesson to others looking to stay warm on these cold winter nights.

“It was dark. Real dark smoke. I could see the fire, but you could barely see the fire because of so much smoke in there,” Warfield said.

All of the eight units in the building suffered water damage. The one unit where the fire started was gutted by flames.

“People were banging on the door, and I hear them banging on the door, and I get up and open the room door, because I sleep with the door closed, and I open the door and everything just hit me. I fall back and I crawl to the front door and get out. I slide the back door open because I couldn’t see or breathe,” Warfield said.

After investigating, Sioux City Fire Rescue said the cause of the fire that displaced approximately 20 residents was the misuse of kitchen appliance

“It was cold in the house and as we know we’ve been here for a while and the heat don’t work, so I used to the oven to warm the house for my kids, I have babies, and I guess I fell asleep and before I knew people were banging on the door,” Warfield added.

Captain Ryan Collins, the Deputy Fire Marshal with the Sioux City Fire Department, said nationally, 50% of structure fires occur during December through February.

That’s also the case here in Sioux City. He said supplemental heat is common during winter months, but it’s strongly discouraged.

“Those lead to fires more often than not. Ovens and stoves, they all have a small amount of grease on the inside and once that grease meets a certain temperature, it will ignite,” Collins said.

Warfield said his kids spent the night at their grandparents the night of the fire, and for that, he said he’s grateful.

“Everything. I lost it. So, got to work on getting it back. It’s going to be hard, but we’re going to get it done,” Warfield said.

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