2009 sees 20 fire deaths in Louisville, how can you be safe?


by Kelsey Starks


Posted on December 27, 2009 at 5:30 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 28 at 12:51 AM

In 2009, 20 people in Jefferson  County have died in fires, that number was just 5 at the end of 2008.

Fire officials say the most dangerous time of the year is just beginning.

It's a scene no one wants to see but they are images burned into our minds.

A mother who lost her children in a Fourth of July fire earlier this year to a mansion left in ruins on Christmas Day when two boys lost their lives visiting their grandparents. 

 “It's catastrophic.  We've had a real bad year for fires.  This will mark the 20th death because of fire this year in Jefferson County.  It's never been like that before," said Chief Henry Ott, Metro Arson Squad.

And the most dangerous time of year for fires is just getting underway.  The winter months most always bring flames and sirens.

"This time of year the number of fires do go up, that's for many different reasons; heating sources, electric fires, furnaces, things you may not think may not be in working order," said Sgt. Salvador Melendez, Louisville Fire & Rescue.

Firefighters say now is the time to get those things in working order.  If you use a fireplace, make sure it has been serviced by a professional.

Also, have your furnace checked each year, especially in an older home.

Take caution with space heaters, candles and outlets that can possibly be over-used for holiday lights and never remove your home's required smoke detector.

"Don't take them down.  They are designed to save your life while you're asleep or wake you up and let you know what's going on," said Sgt. Melendez.

But far too often this year, the warnings haven't come soon enough. 

"It's just as tragic as any of them.  The kids killed on Clay Street, single family fires, and this one - two kids killed on Christmas Day, it’s just tragedy for everybody," said Chief Ott.

You can have your home professionally inspected by the fire department.

If you live in the Urban Services District, you can request a fire safety home inspection by calling MetroCall at 311 or call 574-5000.