Accidental fire deaths in state, Macon uncharacteristically high

hgoodridge@macon.comJuly 1, 2013 

Fatal_Fire

Macon-Bibb County firefighters work at the scene of a fatal house fire Saturday at 2325 Mafiel Drive.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

The number of fire fatalities in Georgia hit a grim milestone this past weekend when an 85-year-old Putnam County woman lost her life.

She became the 70th person to perish in accidental fires this year across the state.

Kathryn Perry died Sunday after a cigarette that was improperly disposed of sparked a blaze at her Eatonton home, according to Georgia’s Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

Fourteen percent of the state’s fatal fires occurred in Macon, which also is experiencing a higher than normal year for deadly fires.

Investigators have not determined the cause of the blaze that killed a Macon man early Sunday at his home on Stonewall Place.

Sgt. Ben Gleaton, a Macon-Bibb County fire investigator, said that fire started in Terry Floyd’s bed, but officials have not determined how it ignited.

Hudgens said if Floyd’s death is determined to be accidental, that would be 71 deaths in accidental fires in the state, putting Georgia on pace to top the 103 fatal fires in 2012.

“This time last year we were at 55 (accidental fire) deaths (in Georgia),” Hudgens said Monday. “Winter is generally when you have the most deaths. We may pass that at the rate we’re at now.”

There were 103 fatalities from accidental fires in Georgia in 2011, 86 in 2010 and 96 in 2009.

Gleaton said Macon’s 11 fire deaths this year are uncharacteristically high and largely are the result of multiple deaths in single fires.

“It’s a little high compared to the last several years,” said Gleaton about 2013’s numbers. He did not have statistics available for fatal fires in Macon for previous years.

“Any time you lose three to four people at one time is pretty big,” Gleaton said.

On June 13, Jennifer Caffee and her three young daughters died from a fire in their home in the 500 block of Macon’s Carmen Place. Gleaton said investigators have not determined the cause of that fire yet.

Hudgens said the overwhelming factors in most of the state’s fatal fires are carelessness and a lack of working smoke detectors in homes.

“The majority are homes without smoke detectors or smoke detectors that are not working,” Gleaton said. “The majority of these cases take place at night. It’s not the fire that (usually) kills them. It’s the smoke and toxic fumes.”

Telegraph reporter Liz Fabian contributed to this report.

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