House fires are always tragic -- even when there is no loss of life. It is hard to deal with the fact that all one’s possessions literally went up in smoke. But that is on the low end of the pain threshold. The high end occurred early Thursday morning in a duplex on Carmen Place. That’s where Jennifer Caffee and three of her daughters -- Wendy, 10, Elizabeth, 13, and Holly Tucker, 5 -- died in a blaze. One of the girls, Wendy, suffered from cerebral palsy and used a wheelchair.
The fire almost claimed more victims. James Tucker, father of the youngest victim and stepfather to the others, was taken to the burn center in Augusta and is in fair condition. Two boys, Brandon and Scott Caffee, escaped with only minor smoke inhalation. Another daughter, Nicole was staying at her grandmother’s house down the street.
It’s hard to see what lessons can be learned from such a tragic situation -- but there are lessons. Whether you’re reading this editorial in the newspaper or on the web using a smartphone or a tablet -- stop right now. Go find your smoke detector. If it’s not hard-wired, check the battery and test it. If it is hard-wired, test it to make sure it works. What, you don’t have smoke detector? Get one, and in the words of Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins, “Do not delay.” Call the fire department at (478) 751-9180 if you need help acquiring or installing a detector.
There is no evidence there was a working or non-working smoke detector in that Carmen Place duplex.
This year, three latchkey children were killed by fire. There was a smoke detector in the home but it’s unlikely that it worked.
There are several tips about how to prepare for your home to prevent a house fire at www.slideshare.net/abdullah.sachwani/15-tips-for-home-fire-safety.