“In January 2015, I lost my invincible brother, resourceful sister-in-law, and their four precious grandchildren to a fire that was too fast and furious to escape. While they were sleeping, the smoke alarms sounded. Only three minutes later a neighbor reported fire shooting through the roof. Fourteen minutes after the smoke alarms sounded, the firefighters arrived but were not able to enter as the fire also vented through the windows and the front door.
The house burned to the ground and couldn’t be entered for two days due to the intense heat and dangerous condition as it smoldered. It was a torturous waiting period as the bodies were discovered one by one over the following week. Investigators later discovered that an electrical fire ignited the live Christmas tree that had been left up after Christmas, which led to the extreme speed and rapid spread of the fire. Even though there were exits nearby for each of them, they simply didn’t have enough time to escape. It didn’t matter that their alarm system alerted fire authorities. The only thing that could have saved them would have been a fire sprinkler system, which could have bought them the extra time needed to escape. It’s important that all residents practice their fire escape plans, listen for their smoke alarms, and install fire sprinklers. Fire sprinklers should be mandated in all new home construction.
I will mourn this tragedy until my dying day, but I will do everything possible to educate the public about the dangers and speed of fire, Christmas tree safety, and the importance of fire sprinklers so that this doesn’t happen to someone else. My brother and sister-in-law would want me to warn others to avoid further loss of life. I reached out to Common Voices and joined as a I realized I could accomplish more as a part of a team than I could alone.”