13 Fire Deaths Reinforce Safety Emphasis

Kentucky Fire Marshal Bill Swope
Credit migration.kentucky.gov

The fact that 13 fire related fatalities have occurred during the past week in Kentucky brings a reminders of the need for persistence when it comes to fire safety in the home.  

Investigators believe flammable material situated near baseboard heat in a Muhlenburg County home caused a fire that killed nine members of one family. 

Kentucky Fire Marshal Bill Swope says a good standing ‘rule of thumb’ is to keep combustible materials a yardstick length away from heaters.  

“That would be a space heater.  That would be a kerosene heater.  That would be a coal stove.  I mean anything that has the potential to catch fire should be three to four feet at a minimum away from a heating source and that’s probably an oversimplification, but that’s the safest message that we could probably convey,” said Swope.

Swope says investigators have not found a working smoke detector at the western Kentucky fire scene.

Funeral services have been set for the mother and eight children who perished in the Muhlenberg fire.  A local pastor says the funeral is set for 2pm CST Saturday at Felix E. Martin Jr. Hall at Muhlenberg County High School in Greenville. The father and daughter who survived the blaze remain in critical but stable condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

While saying it’s far from a guarantee, Swope says having a working smoke detector in the home greatly increases the chances of survival.

Swope says fire extinguishers offer some protection for homeowners, but it’s still a tough call.  

“If we start talking about that, are we talking about a three foot fire or are we talking about a six foot fire and that brings on a lot of guesswork, so for that reason, we say simply ‘get out of the house’ and call 9-1-1,” added Swope.

Three others died in a Madison County house fire Friday night and a fire in downtown Mount Sterling killed a man early Sunday.