After fatal South Jersey fires, check home safety – Gloucester County Times

Fatal Church Street
Firefighters battle the early morning blaze April 9 on Church Street in Bridgeton that claimed the life of 13-year-old Destiny Smith.

In less than three days over Easter weekend, four lives were lost to house fires in South Jersey:

- A 13-year-old schoolgirl in Bridgeton.

- A 56-year old mother in Washington Township.

- A grandmother and her 8-year old daughter in Florence Township, Burlington County.

In the last month, fire also consumed:

- A Winslow Township home, where a mother and 3-year-old child narrowly escaped.

- An unoccupied house in Westville.

- An historic home along the Maurice River.

- The Woodbury Heights fire station.

- A three-story house in Woodbury with several occupied apartments.

- And two additional houses in Bridgeton — one fire caused by cigarette smoking, the other by careless roofers, officials said, along with a blaze in Fairfield Township caused by ongoing electrical work.

In February, a Woodbury Heights house was totally destroyed, its occupants barely escaping the fast-moving flames. Also that month, a kerosene heater caused a fire that gutted a home in Alloway Township. January brought an inferno to a well-known Woodbury house at Penn and Glover streets as well as a kitchen fire to another Winslow Township home.

Fire officials say the Washington Township tragedy last weekend, in which Darlene J. Starett died, lends weight to the argument that, without a working smoke detector, victims have little time to escape a late-night blaze.

“Too often,” said Washington Township Fire Chief John Hoffman, “we still find homes without operating smoke detectors.”

All of the recent tragedies should remind us to check our own homes. If you’re without working smoke detectors, it’s easy to get them.

Hoffman noted that firefighters in most communities are available to install detectors or replace batteries for homeowners who need some help.

“If you cannot afford a smoke detector or cannot get out to buy one,” Hoffman continued, “the fire department will come out and provide one for free.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, a smoke alarm cuts in half the risk of dying in a fire. Nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths between 2005 and 2009 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or where alarms were not working, the association says.

This month’s Firelog is unusually long for early spring. Whether it’s a recent cold snap that has residents turning up the heat or a stagnant economy that’s forestalling routine maintenance, fire prevention must be a priority in every South Jersey home.

With sympathy for those who have lost friends, family and property, we urge everyone to install smoke detectors, keep the batteries fresh, and take every precaution against deadly fires.

More Safety Info:

  1. Ocean City firefighters offer home safety checks
  2. Easton Fire Officials Present Home Safety Tips
  3. Police Safety Tips: Home Security 101
  4. Welcome Home: You have friends in the public safety business
  5. Have a safe and sound home in seven days


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