Officials concerned about lack of smoke alarms after woman dies in Fountain Square duplex fire

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Indianapolis Fire Department officials say they are concerned with the recent number of fatal and critical injury fires where investigators found no working smoke alarm in the homes.

“We need you to take this seriously,” said IFD Battalion Chief Rita Reith. “Methods are available to get smoke alarms in your home, we will come out and install it. But we need you to be proactively looking out for your family just as we are looking out for you.”

So far this year, six different fires have left six people dead and critically injured. The most recent fatal fire happened around 1:30 Tuesday morning in the 1400 block of Pleasant Street, in the Fountain Square area. Fire Department officials say a 50-year-old woman succumbed to her injures hours after she and her 54-year old husband were pulled from the burning duplex they rent. The woman’s husband was listed in critical condition as of Tuesday afternoon.

The cause of the fire was ruled undetermined, but investigators discovered there were no working smoke alarms in the home.

A man identified by neighbors as the owner of the property had nothing to say when asked about the lack of smoke alarms inside the rental property.

Of the six fatal or critical injury fires this year, Reith said all but one had no working smoke alarms.

“That is really really concerning to us,” Reith said.

The Indianapolis Fire Department goes into neighborhoods six times a year, knocking on doors and offering free smoke alarms to residents who need them. All year long, anyone can call the fire department to ask for a free smoke alarm.

“We will come out and install it,” Reith said. “But we need you to be proactively looking out for your family just as we are looking out for you.”

“Nine times out of ten, it’s preventable,” Reith said. “It can happen to you. And most of the time when it does happen, you’re asleep or not in the room where it’s going on. So, we need the smoke alarm in your house to actively alert you that something’s going on.”

If you rent a property, Reith recommends asking your landlord about smoke alarms. Property owners are responsible for making sure smoke alarms are installed and working properly.

Anyone who needs a smoke alarm can contact the Indianapolis Fire Department’s Life and Safety Division. That number is (317) 327-6093.