1 Killed in apartment fire; no battery in smoke detector

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – A man was killed in a late-night apartment fire, and firefighters say a simple 9-volt battery might have saved him.

It happened at about 11 p.m. at the Villa Serena apartments at 17th and Glendale avenues.

According to investigators, the man who lived in the apartment was in his 50s and had several health issues. They believe he died of severe smoke inhalation.

Firefighters said there was a smoke detector in the apartment, but it did not have a battery. Had that smoke detector been working, crews believe the victim might have been alerted to the fire in time to escape.

Crews on the scene said the smoke from the fire was so thick that smoke alarms in neighboring units went off. Those residents got out safely. It was one of those neighbors who called 911.

At this point, firefighters believe the fire started in the kitchen, which is on the first floor of the apartment. The man was found in his bedroom upstairs.

Firefighters contained the flames to the one two-story unit.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The victim has not been identified.

Firefighters throughout the country consistently stress the importance of having working smoke detectors. They say when it comes to protecting your family from a house fire, the best thing you can do, after removing hazards, is install working smoke alarms in your home.

Because flames move with incredible speed, doubling in size every 30 seconds, time is critical. Once a fire starts, you generally have less than five minutes to escape, firefighters say. A functioning smoke detector can buy you that time.

Firefighters say there should be at least one smoke detector on every level of your home. The best place to install them is near sleeping areas.

Safety experts say you should test your smoke detectors every month and, if the alarms run on 9-volt batteries, replace the batteries at least once a year. The units themselves should be replaced every eight to 10 years.