Officials address increase in fires in Richmond area

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Fire leaders say the recent increase in the number of fires across the areas is partially due to the weather, as well as other factors. This morning, those investigators put out a warning to you at home, just days before Christmas.

It's been a busy month for firefighters all across the area. From deadly fires, to the fires that have left people with nothing but the clothes on their back, there's been a big increase. An increase fire crews want to reverse. And reverse soon.

In the dark of night, a candle flickers just steps away from a deadly house fire in Chesterfield. Just 24 hours earlier, a mom and her 12 year old son were killed there.

"It's horrible anytime of year. But, so close to Christmas, with the little boy. It's too much. It's really sad," says neighbor Laura Sullivan.

We are now learning fire investigators believe there were no working smoke detectors in the home. That fire is one of four major fires in the last two and a half weeks in Chesterfield. Three of the four fires, including this deadly one, was caused by electrical issues.

"If it's damaged, frayed in any way, get it fixed," says Chesterfield Battalion Chief Robbie Dawson.

Another major fire, at the apartment fire at the Old Buckingham Station Apartments. Nearly 40 people without a home now, when the apartment went up in flames and the roof collapsed. Kyle Colbert described it to us moments after escaping it all. "Going to sleep last night, I never thought I'd wake up to smoke and flames in my face."

Chief Dawson tells us sprinklers are just as important as smoke detectors. "Residential sprinklers would have made a difference. We'd have three more people with us that are not here with us today."

"How people go out their daily lives is certainly a factor in some of these fire situations," says Chief David Creasy in Richmond.

And if you think it won't happen to you, think again. "I bet the family yesterday morning thought that too," adds Chief Dawson.

If you can't afford a smoke detector, or you just want your local fire department to come out and make sure your home is fire safe, call 888-537-5967.

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