UPDATE: Investigators determine overloaded power strip caused fatal houseboat fire

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John and Emily Bruce

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. – The Scottsboro Fire Department has released the cause of the fire that killed a married couple and their dog on Monday.

Investigators with the fire department, police department and the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office have determined an electrical problem caused the fire. They say an overloaded power strip sparked the blaze.

The couple, identified as John Phillips Bruce and Emile Nelson Bruce, were reportedly asleep Monday morning when the fire started. The report from the fire department also says it appears they may have been trying to escape when they were overtaken by the smoke and heat.

Investigators say the fire appears to have started in the main quarters sitting area of the houseboat and ignited a couch.

The majority of the fire damage was confined to the main sitting area, however the sleeping area saw significant smoke damage.

Firefighters say there were no working smoke alarms found on the house boat. Because of this, the Fire Department wants to remind everyone of the importance of working smoke alarms wherever they sleep, including boats, campers and RVs.

The deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce are marked as the 34th and 35th fire deaths in the state of Alabama since January 1, 2017.

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