Saturday, January 19, 2013

Overloaded Electrical Outlet Likely Caused Merritt Island Fire

MERRITT ISLAND, Florida --  State and local fire investigators believe an overloaded electrical outlet may have sparked a fire that seriously injured two people on Merritt Island early Saturday morning.  A full investigation is still underway.

Brevard County Fire Rescue crews responded to a structure fire in the 900 block of North Tropical Trail on Merritt Island at 3:12 a.m. on Saturday.  Upon arrival, firefighters found a triplex apartment building with heavy fire involvement in one unit.  It was reported that all residents were out of the structure. 

BCFR spokesperson Lt. Jeffrey Taylor said that firefighters were not able to enter the building due to the tremendous heat and flame involvement to the building.  Instead, fire crews immediately initiated a defensive fire attack, applying large amounts of water from hand lines and elevated fire streams from a ladder truck to douse the fire.

Two occupants of the apartment, a man and a woman in their early 20's, suffered serious burns trying to escape the fire and were airlifted to the burn center at Orlando Regional Medical Center in Orlando, Florida.  A third occupant, a 23-year-old man, was evaluated at the scene but was not transported to the hospital.  Current conditions of the victims are not available.

Investigators say the fire originated in a bedroom occupied by the severe burn victims and appears to have started near an electrical outlet in the room.   Officials say that the home was not equipped with smoke alarms.  By the time the pair realized a fire had started, the flames were already so intense that they were unable to escape through the bedroom door.  However, both were able to escape through a bedroom window.  But not before suffering severe burns and lacerations from the broken window.

"The outcome may have been quite different had the home been equipped with working smoke alarms," said Taylor. "A working smoke alarm may have alerted the pair to the presence of fire and allowed them to escape without serious injury."  Taylor added that smoke alarms are one of the cheapest and easiest ways to protect families in the event of a fire.  

According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms.  A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire. Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of the home and are recommended to be placed both inside and outside of every bedroom.

The Red Cross is assisting the residents of the apartment adjacent to the main fire occupancy. No one inside that unit was injured however the apartment suffered fire, smoke and water damage and is not habitable.