Upstate fire chiefs stress importance of working smoke detectors as they track rise in house fires

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GAFFNEY, S.C. (WSPA) – Data shows nationally, home fires are up nearly 20% compared to this time last year. In the Carolinas, that number is also rising. But the American Red Cross and local fire departments are trying to stop those numbers from climbing even more.

The damage of deadly flames can be seen in a handful of Upstate neighborhoods.

Firefighters in both Gaffney and Spartanburg tackled fatal house fires in just the last week.

Those fires have something in common. Fire marshals told 7 News, they couldn’t find any working smoke detectors inside the homes.

“With no working smoke detector, nobody saw the fire so the fire was very much ahead of us before we even got the call,” said Gaffney Fire Chief, Jamie Caggiano.

Gaffney Fire Chief, Jamie Caggiano said the latest fire death he saw was early Wednesday morning. That’s the second one in the last year. He told us, that’s an increase from recent years.

“We hope always that number is zero but this year, it’s two,” Caggiano told us.

Leaders with the American Red Cross are tracking an increase in home fires across the country.

“In South Carolina, we did see a decrease for a while but we have been seeing an uptick in home fires recently. March actually was our busiest month in the past year for home fires across the state,” said Ben Williamson with the American Red Cross.

That’s why Ben Williamson with the American Red Cross told 7 News, they’re working with local fire departments to make sure every home has a smoke detector, whether that’s handing them out in neighborhoods or at fire stations.

“I hate to put it as bluntly as I put it but there’s really no excuse in our fire district, not to have a working smoke detector,” Caggiano said.

The American Red Cross here in South Carolina holds free, virtual education calls on fire prevention, education and much more. You can find a link on that below.

Also, you can call the fire station in Gaffney and they’ll get someone out to your home as soon as they can to install smoke detectors.

American Red Cross Resources:

https://www.redcross.org/local/south-carolina/about-us/our-work/home-fire-campaign.html

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