Deadly fire prompts community safety meeting

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Firefighters holding a community meeting are teaching people how to prevent another deadly fire.

Just like you would check under the hood of your car you need to check your electrical wiring once a year. Firefighters say a faulty power outlet installed after the home was built is what started the fire.

Tuesday morning's fire sparked panic in neighbor Laura Sullivan. Frightened an electrical fire may seep through her walls she called an electrician.

"As a single mom, I don't go checking outlets very often," she said.

Licensed electrician Robert Snyder first checks the breaker box.

"Just check for age, wear-and-tear," Snyder said.

Aluminum wiring is a red flag. The wiring, now banned, is found in some older homes. Aluminum easily expands and contracts, so connections quickly get loose.

"One problem with this panel is, the design of this panel--- there's no way for you to shutdown power from this box with one switch," said Snyder while checking Laura's breaker box.

Laura will now invest in that upgrade. Her power outlets could also be re-vamped. Robert shows us how the wiring is pushed back-- it's not bad, but wrapping it around the screws is better. Her smoke detector works loud and clear, but she only has two in the house.

Fire Marshal Robbie Dawson wants you to put a smoke detector in every bedroom. Investigators couldn't find working smoke detectors in the home that was destroyed Tuesday.

"This just happened yesterday. We want it fresh on people's minds so they take heed," Dawson said.

In two years faulty electrical work sparked three fires in Chesterfield. Tonight firefighters telling people: hire a licensed electrician and check your smoke detectors at least twice a year.

While mother Tracey Johnson and her son Jacob Layne died in the fire, father Kenneth Layne made it out alive. He jumped from a second floor window. Tonight he's still in the hospital.

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