SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – One day after two people died in a Sioux City house fire, fire officials are stressing the importance of having smoke detectors in every home.
Investigators said none were found in the westside home that went up in flames on Thursday.
After being pulled from the home at 1819 West 1st Street by firefighters, Andrew Godberson, 57, and Jessica Fischer, 24, later died at a Sioux City hospital.
A third victim, Juan Galarza, 26, remains hospitalized in critical condition.
The family of one of the victims has set up the Jessica Fischer memorial fund, and donations can be made at any Security National Bank.
Fire investigators said they didn’t find any smoke detectors in the house. A device, they said is proven to provide early warning.
A house fire happens about every minute and a half, in the United States.
That’s why fire experts said it’s important to have a working smoke alarm in your home.
“It’s just an all-around tragic event,” said James Reed, a resident in the home of Thursday’s fire.
He had just gotten home from work and was watching television when the fire broke out.
“The whole place was up in black smoke within seconds. I was coughing my lungs out. I didn’t even grab shoes or socks. I just grabbed my coat, my dog, and ran out,” said Reed.
Reed and fire investigators said there was no warning because the house had no smoke alarms.
Sioux City Deputy Fire Marshal, Joe Rodriguez, said a working smoke alarm reduces the risk of dying in a fire by 50%.
“Our biggest goal as a fire department is to have a working smoke alarm in every home,” said Rodriguez, Sioux City Fire Rescue (SCFR).
That’s why the SCFR is stepping up its efforts to inform people about the Safe Home program.
“We will put a smoke detector up for free in the right location. Our firefighters will come into your house look at it, and if you have a smoke alarm greater than ten years we always recommend that it be replaced,” said Rodriguez.
Reed said he still can’t believe what happened Thursday. It’s something he’ll never forget.
“I feel sorry for the victim’s families. It’s just two young people went,” said Reed.
Firefighters say house fires happen more frequently during the fall and winter months, because people use more space heaters.
If you use a space heater, the fire department recommends keeping other household items at least three feet away.