Since Thanksgiving 2008, there have been more than 158 fatal fires in the United States resulting in over 200 fire fatalities.
Just between between Christmas Eve and January 7 the following fatality fires were reported by the news media:
* On Christmas Eve, four died in a house fire in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. All of the victims were children and officials cannot be certain whether smoke alarms worked.
* Four adults and three children died in a southwest Philadelphia home the day after Christmas when gasoline was used to fuel a kerosene heater. There were no working smoke alarms in the home.
* In Baltimore, two people died in a fire above a grocery store. A young couple died in the blaze and investigators found no working smoke alarms in the building.
* In Washington, D.C. on New Year’s Day, six individuals died in a house fire on Jackson Street, Northeast. While the cause was listed as accidental/electrical, officials are not sure smoke alarms worked properly.
* Eight people, including four children, died in a residential fire in Richland, New York. The cause is still under investigation, however officials believe the fire may have been caused by a wood stove. The home had no working smoke alarms.
* Three people, including two teenage girls, died after an early morning house fire in Ringling, Oklahoma. Officials say the fire, caused by a lit gas stove being used as an alternative heating source, began while at least two of the victims were still in bed.
* There were no working smoke alarms in a Southeast Side Chicago home where three children — a 7-month-old boy, a 2-year-old boy, and a 3-year-old girl — died in a fire.
“The 2008 holiday season and the start of 2009 may be recorded as one of the deadliest for residential fires in recent memory of the fire service,” said Cade. “Not only have there been a significant number of preventable fires, but the occurrences of multiple fatalities resulting from these fires are simply unacceptable within our nation. There should be a smoke alarm protecting every person in this nation today, particularly as we sleep.”
The US Fire Administration, NFPA and fire service leaders from across the country are urging residents to prevent tragedies by testing and maintaining smoke alarms and practicing a fire escape plan.
Smoke alarms are a very important means of preventing home fire fatalities by providing an early warning signal so family members can escape. The combination of smoke alarms and an installed residential fire sprinkler system that controls the fire provides the best protection in a home fire.