Weatherford Democrat

Local News

January 7, 2009

House fires, death toll rise

Danie M. Huffman

wdreporter2@yahoo.com

When we fall asleep, usually the last thing on our minds is smoke detectors.

Many residents make homemade heating devices, which unknowingly places their families in danger.

Bob Hopkins, Weatherford Fire public information officer, said there have been 16 fires reported in the city since November.

The majority of those fires destroyed homes and displaced 13 families. He added the main causes are careless homeowners using heating appliances in manners they were never designed for and unattended candles. To top it off, Hopkins said many homeowners do not make sure they have working smoke detectors.

Requests from fire officials all over the nation were broadcast Tuesday during a press conference after death numbers climbed in recent months with non-working smoke alarms.

Authorities called this winter “one of the deadliest holiday seasons in recent memory.”

Numerous significant fires claimed record lives in the first days of 2009.

Since late November, more than 158 fires in the United States resulted in more than 200 fatalities.

“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,” United States Fire Administrator Greg Cade said. “Not only has 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.”

A family of four died in Kentucky Christmas Eve, which officials could not be sure of the smoke detectors were functioning.

Seven died in Philadelphia, including and three children, when gasoline was used to fuel a kerosene heater. Fire officials said there were no working smoke alarms found in the home.

A young couple died in Baltimore during a fire above a grocery store. Again, investigators found no working smoke alarms in the building.

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