By Susan Motander
Within the last two weeks three people died in Monrovia as the result of fires. Their deaths might have been prevented if they had functional smoke alarms according to Monrovia’s Fire Chief, Brad Dover.
The first death occurred on Nov. 24 when a fire broke out in an apartment on North Canyon Boulevard at around 2:30 a.m. in the morning. According to Police Chief Jim Hunt, when police arrived at the scene, the resident was attempting to fight the fire by himself and had to be restrained from returning to the structure to continue battling the blaze. That resident later died at the hospital as a result of the fire induced injuries.
Just over a week later on Dec. 3, at 1:15 a.m., an alert neighbor noticed smoke coming from a mobile home in the trailer park at 1020 S. Mountain Ave. just south of Canyon Oaks High School. When police and fire personnel arrived at the scene, a man and a woman were found, unresponsive, in the home. The woman was declared dead at the scene, the man was later declared dead at the hospital.
The cause of the first fire at the apartment appears to have been caused by the ignition of combustive material that was stored too close to a space heater. At the trailer park, the fire seems to have started in a trashcan. Fire personnel have speculated that a cigarette may have been thrown into the container.
The one thing these fires have in common was the lack of a functioning smoke alarm. In the apartment fire there was a smoke alarm, but it was in another part of the home and did not react. Chief Dover said the second situation was a classic example of no working smoke detectors that could possibly have awoken the residents and saved their lives.
The Fire Chief pointed out that having a smoke alarm itself was not enough. It is important to note the age of the alarm. “The smoke detectors have a limited life time,” Dover said. “If your smoke alarm is over 10 years old, you need to check its expiration date.” According to the Chief the expiration date is listed on the alarm itself.
Both the fire and police chiefs stressed the importance of fire safety during the holidays: Candles, portable heaters and of course dry Christmas trees are always a fire hazard, but Chief Dover wanted to stress the importance of good, working smoke detectors.
To that end, the Fire dept. is offering Monrovia residents batteries for their smoke detectors. They also have a limited supply of 10-year smoke detectors for those who cannot afford to purchase the alarms.