Officials: Stove sparked fatal Darby fire

January 24, 2011 10:40:04 AM PST
Police suspect the fire that killed a suburban Philadelphia woman on her 26th birthday was started by a kitchen stove being used for heat.

Darby police Chief Robert Smythe says Dominique Gibson was apparently using the stove to supplement the heat in her apartment when the fire broke out early Sunday.

Temperatures across the region had dipped into the teens the night of the blaze.

Authorities say the fire started near the stove and a fire extinguisher found in the kitchen indicates Gibson tried to put out the blaze before being overcome by smoke.

She was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Smythe says Gibson had been out celebrating her birthday in the hours before the fire broke out.

Dominique's family says this was her first apartment.

"She was proud of her apartment, we were proud of her, she was getting her life together, and [she was] working," Dominique's aunt Penny Robinson said.

Two firefighters were treated for injuries sustained while fighting the fire.

Nearby resident Julie Benoit watched the scary scene.

"I went upstairs and I looked and I saw flames coming from the top of the building, and I said, 'Oh my God, the building's on fire," Benoit said.

The house, built in 1870, was once considered one of Darby Borough's gems. In more recent year, it was converted into the three apartments. An airplane simulator has sat atop a porch since the 1970's, making the building somewhat of a landmark.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.