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Fire chief details common themes between deadly Richmond fires

Posted at 4:30 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 17:15:38-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- On a day already marked by a deadly house fire in Chesterfield County, Richmond City leaders gathered Friday morning to express concern over the number of fire fatalities Richmond has experienced in 2021.

"We've only gotten a quarter through the year, we, unfortunately, lost three lives," Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said.

Two people died in Richmond fires in both 2020 and 2019. Richmond recorded zero fire deaths in 2018.

"One life lost is one life lost too many," Richmond Fire Chief Melvin Carter said. "Fire is not just an issue here in our city. It's a national issue."

In Henrico County, one person has died in a fire this year compared to zero last year.

Hanover County was still compiling its stats and Chesterfield Fire Officials were focused Friday's fire.

Richmond Fire Chief Carter said he's noticed some common themes behind the deadly fires in the past three years:

  • All but one has happened in South Richmond
  • All but one involved non-working smoke alarms
  • All were linked to cooking, heat-related electrical, smoking, or candles

After each fire, Carter said firefighters handed out fire safety literature to neighbors but said both firefighters and neighbors could take proactive steps to help prevent tragedy.

"First, you should be practicing an escape plan just in case of a fire," he said. "Next, avoid unattended cooking situations. Make sure your smoke alarms are operating and have batteries."

Carter said the department planned to increase educational events and safety inspections at senior living facilities.