Two recent tragedies in the United States should remind us of the importance of preventive measures in homes. These two cases are exemplary. In Belgium too, domestic fires cost too many lives. In 2020, 61 of the 66 fatal victims fell in a house or flat fire!
5 January 2022 - 12 dead in Philadelphia
At least twelve people, including eight children, died in a fire in a three-storey social building in the early hours of 5 January 2022 in Philadelphia (USA).
Upon arrival, firefighters faced heavy smoke, heat and limited visibility on all floors of the building. The fire appeared to originate from a kitchen on the second floor.
The building, which dates from 1920, was equipped with several smoke and CO detectors that were found to be functional during the last inspection by the local services: however, these appear not to have worked. The investigation will have to determine why.
26 people lived in the building, 8 on the first floor and 18 on the second and third floors, fire service officials said. This number does not appear to be in line with the authorisations granted by the social agency.
According to an update from the Philadelphia Fire Department, the investigation is focusing on the burning of a Christmas tree by a child.
In addition to determining who was responsible for the fire and what caused it, the investigation will need to determine what safety and evacuation measures were put in place and why there were so many victims.
9 January 2022 - 19 dead in New York
19 people, including 9 children, died in a fire in a 19-storey building in the Bronx. More than 60 people were injured. In this neighbourhood, too few buildings meet safety standards.
A space heater is believed to be the cause of the fire, which broke out in a duplex flat on the second and third floors of the building. The door of this flat was left open and the smoke spread to all floors, which explains the high number of victims by smoke inhalation.
ANPI will report in detail on the casualty figures for house fires in the next FSA MAG in March 2022.