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Electric Heater Blamed for Fire That Killed 88-Year-Old Woman

Elizabeth Jane Ferry turned 88 New Year's Day and died two days later when her cluttered mobile home was consumed by flames. A manager at the mobile home park said Ferry's cat may have knocked over an electric heater, starting the blaze.


The Sonoma County coroner's office has identified the woman who was found dead in her burning mobile home Thursday afternoon as 88-year-old Elizabeth Jane Ferry.

Ferry lived at the Leisure Lake Village mobile home park for 11 or 12 years, said Carol Pederson, who manages the park with her husband Terry.

"She lived alone. I didn't know her personally. She stayed to herself and didn't participate much at the park," Pederson said.

Petaluma firefighters received multiple calls about the blaze in unit 201 at 300 Stony Point Road at 3:09 p.m. Thursday. They arrived at 3:15 p.m., attacked the burning mobile home with water and were able to protect a neighboring home from the fire, Battalion Chief Jeff Schach said.

While fighting the fire inside the mobile home, firefighters found Ferry's body in a rear bedroom, Schach said.

The fire was controlled at 3:38 p.m. and the mobile home, valued at $50,000, was a total loss, Schach said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation and it is unknown if there were working smoke detectors in the mobile home, Schach said.

Manager Terry Pederson said Ferry's trailer was cluttered with boxes and she used electric heaters to keep warm.

Ferry's cat also died in the fire and Pederson said he suspects it knocked over a heater that then caught one of the cardboard boxes on fire.

"That would be my guess," Pederson said. "It went up quick," he said about the blaze.

A neighbor saw the smoke and honked his vehicle's horn to alert Ferry, Pederson said. The neighbor tried to get into the trailer but there was too much smoke, he said.

Pederson said he and Ferry teased each other. "She was ornery," he said. Pederson said Ferry kept to herself and that her 88th birthday was on New Year's Eve.

Ferry was pronounced dead at 3:50 p.m. Thursday and an autopsy was scheduled for Friday, according to the coroner's office.

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MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" January 05, 2013 at 10:17 PM
I am sorry this person died. A burning cluttered mobile home is not good. It is good The neighbor did not do in. Where was the family?
Longest Family in Electrical in Petaluma January 06, 2013 at 03:51 PM
Anyone using an electric heater must make sure they check the cord and the end, often people are using old heaters that have not been maintained or checked, with damaged cords. So everyone out there make sure you check your electric heater. Not all circuits support the use of electric heaters for long periods of time, so if you are unsure you should contact a professional to assist you.
PAMELA SMITH January 06, 2013 at 06:51 PM
i am saddened to hear of her and her cat's demise! this is why smoke detectors are also sooooo important. i wish she had been in a senior apartment complex instead. also, because of her name, i am sorry i never met her. she may have been a relative of mine! pamela ferry smith
Active Thinker January 07, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Very sad. Things happen. This is why we need to have wellness checks on older people to help as best as we can these things don't happen. Just try to prevent life events. Bless her and hope she is rocking out at the next level.

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