This month in Firewatch, lack of working smoke alarms delays detection of fatal fire

Blog Post created by paulalevesque Employee on Sep 18, 2014

Lack of working smoke alarms delays detection of fatal fire, Illinois

A fire of undetermined origin that began in the first-floor living room of a single-family house killed a 38-year-old woman, her 9-year-old daughter, and her 7-year-old son.

Although the father was overcome by smoke, he survived.

The two-story, wood-frame house, which was 50 feet (15 meters) long and 25 feet (8 meters) wide, had a single battery-operated smoke alarm with no battery and no sprinklers.

A neighbor called 911 at 2:22 a.m., and firefighters arriving four minutes later found heavy fire and smoke coming from the first floor of the house. After entering with a hose line, they rescued the father near the front door and found his son several minutes later near the back door. Crews then extinguished the remaining fire and found the woman and her daughter on the first floor.

Investigators determined the fire started on a sofa bed in the living room where the woman and her daughter were sleeping. The father and son, who were asleep on the second floor, awoke and came downstairs, where they were overcome by the smoke and heat.

 Investigators could not determine the fire’s heat source.

The house, valued at $100,000, sustained $40,000 in structural damage. Its contents, which had an estimated value of $10,000, were a total loss.

Kenneth J. Tremblay, 2014," Firewatch", NFPA Journal, January/February 30-31.

For more Firewatch incidents NFPA Journal.  To learn about NFPA’s Fire Analysis and Research statistical reports on Home Fires that Began with Mattresses and Bedding and Home Fires That began with Upholstered Furniture. and Smoke Alarms n U.S. Home Fires