Richmond suffers first fire fatality of the year

By Laura Geller - bio | email
Posted by Shawn Maclauchlan

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We're still waiting to find out what caused Richmond's first deadly fire this year.

67-year old Matthew Benjamin was killed when his home on Rose Avenue caught fire Saturday morning.

Firefighters know death and injury are part of the job, but Lieutenant Shawn Jones says every year they look forward to making it to December 31 and celebrating an entire 365 days without any deadly fires.

That won't happen this year.

"The fact that someone died is always a heartbreaking moment," said Lt. Jones, "but also the fire fatality is our first one of the year and just as we were approaching the end of the year we were hoping to end the year without any fire fatalities."

Last year they made it even further... 2009's first fatality wasn't until December 8.

The Henrico fire department's last fatality free year was 2007. Since then, they've had a handful of deaths each year.

Chesterfield has seen three fire fatalities this year.

Fire officials say Benjamin's death serves as a tragic reminder to be proactive when it comes to fire safety.

The department has ruled the fire accidental. At this point, because of the damage, they have not been able to find a smoke detector on the second floor where he was found.

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