Fort Worth Fire Concerned Over Fatal Fire Deaths

Fire officials say smoke detectors are the best way to stop more deaths from happening

By Chris Van Horne
|  Saturday, Feb 8, 2014  |  Updated 11:07 PM CDT
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Although the year has just started, the number of fire fatalities in the last 40 days have been greater than those from last year. Fire fighters are trying to give advise on how to be cautious and prevent being another victim.

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 News

Although the year has just started, the number of fire fatalities in the last 40 days have been greater than those from last year. Fire fighters are trying to give advise on how to be cautious and prevent being another victim.

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The potential for more cold weather in coming days for North Texas comes as the Fort Worth Fire Department sounds the alarm on the need for smoke detectors.

The city has already seen five fire-related deaths since the first of the year. In 2013 there were only four such deaths all year.

To keep that number from growing, fire officials point to one very important product to have in someone's home.

"It is very, very unusual for us to have a fatality fire where a smoke alarm has been working," said Capt. Tom Crow of the Fort Worth Fire Department.

On Thursday evening, Karla Guajardo-Salazar and son Jesus, known to the family as Coco according to a cousin, didn't have that early warning and joined the sad and growing list of fire-related deaths.

There have been seven such deaths this winter and five since January 1st, including two children.

"The thought of losing a child is just incomprehensible and especially in that way," Crow said.

Captain Crow says the best way to stop these deadly fires is to get people aware and educated, to keep heat sources away from flammables, have a plan to escape and most importantly early detection. 

"Our number one weapon against this is going to be working smoke alarms in the house," he said.
 
And the tragedy on West Bolt Street is causing pause throughout the neighborhood.
 
Jackie gouge, south fort worth baptist church outreach minister: 1457 "They said their couch caught on fire, for me, for instance I have a little heater by my couch," Jackie Gouge said.
 
Gouge is the outreach minister for South Fort Worth Baptist Church. He helped set up a memorial fund called The Karla Guajardo and Family Fund at Wells Fargo. On Sunday night the church, which the family did not go to, will hold a special prayer service.
 
"Because this is our community," Gouge said.
 
And as the community and fire department remain concerned for the victims, they also hope this won't happen again.
 
"The greatest thing they can do for themselves, for their children, for their neighbors is to make sure they have a working smoke alarm," Capt. Crow said.
 
The Fort Worth Fire Department plans on canvassing the neighborhood on West Bolt Street next weekend. Firefighters will check and install smoke detectors free of charge.
 
The department went to a similar effort in the communities where the prior fatal fires occurred. Of the 197 homes fire crews visited, 45 smoke alarm batteries were replaced and 64 new alarms installed. Since November the fire department has conducted seven smoke detector campaigns and estimate that 50- to 60-percent of homes visited needed batteries or a new alarm.
 
The city provides smoke detectors and batteries free of charge to citizens year round. You can call 817-392-6862 for more information or visit the city's fire website.

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