Burlington Fire Department stresses safety after deadly blaze

Local News

A fire claimed the lives of two Burlington men on King Street early Saturday morning. Almost 50 crew members were needed to fight the flames. 

“There was a lot of fire…and what that translates to us is a delay in recognition of the emergency from the public and making that 911 call,” said Burlington Fire Chief Barry Simays. 

Simays explains, by the time crew members arrived at the scene, they saw “advanced development of fire,” indicating some kind of delay in notifying the fire department. 

Originally, the Burlington Fire Department believed the occupant had taken off the smoke detector. But on Monday afternoon, investigators found melted remnants of the device from heat and smoke, which likely muffled the victims’ alarms. 

 “The unit directly above that, which is unit number five on this west end, had fire exposure into the unit,” said Simays. 

 Director of the Permitting and Inspections Department Bill Ward says the building was due for inspection in April but, given the Pandemic, it was postponed until October. Still, nothing was found to be a fire safety hazard. 

“It’s clear from the record that there were no life hazard or what we call “fire safety deficiencies” from the minimum housing code,” said Ward.  

One resident who lives next to the building says he was stunned to learn of a tragedy so close to home. 

 “It’s really strange, it’s really eerie. It’s definitely something you don’t expect. It’s just really unsettling to have your neighbors perish in a fire,” said Burlington resident Nate Gondelman. 

 Ward says the six-unit building from the 1930s isn’t equipped with a sprinkler system and the building codes don’t require it. However, Chief Simays says extra protection never hurts. 

“Even if there isn’t a code requirement, a property owner can go beyond the minimum requirements of the code and add fire protection systems, whether or not they’re required,” said Simays. 

But whether you live in a home or rented unit, residents also have a responsibility. That is, regularly checking your smoke detectors, locating your fire extinguisher, and having escape plans. 

But should you have questions or concerns, Chief Simays encourages all to contact your property manager or local fire department.  

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