The cause of a fire early Wednesday morning that left two Bulloch County residents dead was determined to be a space heater that ignited clothing, said Georgia Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King.
Statesboro Fire Chief Tim Grams said both his investigators and the state fire marshal collected evidence that indicated a space heater in the master bedroom of the Bell Road mobile home caused the fire that took the lives of a mother and son.
“Shortly after 1 a.m. on the morning of November 13, the City of Statesboro Fire Department responded to a residential fire …” King said in a statement released Thursday. “When emergency personnel made their way inside the home, they found Leslie Anne Dixon, 44, in critical condition and Joshua Anderson Spitler, 20, deceased on the floor of a bathroom near the master bedroom.”
Dixon was transported to East Georgia Medical Center, but died about an hour after the fire was reported, he said.
“The fire was caused by clothing being too close to a space heater in the master bedroom.”
Bulloch County Fire Chief Christopher Ivey, whose department assisted the Statesboro Fore Department, said he did not hear a smoke alarm going off.
“No smoke detectors were found in the home,” King said.
The 34-year-old mobile home suffered major damage to the interior, he said. “Though there were two victims that perished in the fire, two individuals were able to escape the home unharmed.”
Grams said a relative from a nearby home heard “noises” and calls for help, and was able to help the two survivors escape.
The victims will not be sent for autopsies due to “the overwhelming evidence that their deaths were caused by smoke and soot inhalation,” King said.
Investigators with the Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office assisted the City of Statesboro Fire Department, Bulloch County Fire Department, and the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office with the investigation.
Visitation and funerals for both Joshua Anderson Spitler and his mother Leslie Anne Dixon are Saturday from 10 until 11 a.m, followed by a funeral service in the chapel of Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home, with Rev. Jody Bryant officiating. Interment will be in the Dixon Family Cemetery.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.