State fire officials are pleading with residents to make sure their homes have working smoke detectors as yet another life was lost in an early morning fire Thursday.
“If there’s anything you can spend on your family, buy a smoke detector,” said Pulaski County Public Safety Director Tiger Robinson. “It is the gift of life.”
Robinson, along with the Faubush and Nancy Volunteer Fire Departments, responded to a report of a structure fire in the Jabez area of Russell County just after midnight Thursday.
Robinson said the home, located on McClendon Road, was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived.
And soon after that, they discovered that the resident, identified by Kentucky State Police as Porter Cain, 49, had succumbed to injuries sustained in the blaze, along with his pet cat.
Cain’s home is located in a land-locked area of Russell County that is accessible by emergency services by way of the Pulaski County side of Lake Cumberland.
The Russell County Coroner’s office responded to the scene, and an autopsy had been scheduled Thursday to determine a cause of death.
Fire officials are investigating the blaze, but a space heater was reportedly found among the rubble of Cain’s mobile home. KSP stated that no foul play is suspected, and investi-gators have indicated that no signs of smoke detectors were found at Cain’s home.
The tragedy occurred after the Kentucky Fire Commission released a statement Wednesday encouraging all residents to keep smoke detectors in their homes.
Robinson echoed those thoughts.
“I’ve been doing this since 1985, and I’ve never pulled a body out of a house that had a working smoke detector,” said Robinson.
Kentucky Fire Commission Executive Director Ronnie Day said in the statement that the use of smoke detectors alerts residents to danger and gives them more time to escape before they are overcome by smoke or trapped by flames.
The National Fire Protection Association says smoke detectors reduce the risk of dying in a blaze by 82 percent.
Robinson said every family should have a fire escape plan, and he said the absence of an appliance considered to be a fire hazard when operated improperly — such as a space heater — doesn’t mean a fire can’t occur.
“Just because you don’t have a stove or heater doesn’t mean something crazy can’t happen,” said Robinson.
Cain’s death is only the last in a number of fire-related deaths that have occurred across the state since the new year.
Somerset hasn’t been spared. The community was rocked on Feb. 14 when Arthur Jackson, 51, of Happy Circle Drive, in Somerset, was killed after his home caught fire. Despite firefighters’ valiant efforts to save him, Jackson succumbed to his injuries soon after he was pulled from the burning home and transported to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital.
Most recently, three people — two adults and a young child — were killed when a Wayne County home went up in flames Thursday, March 14.
Douglas Walker, 53, Melvina Walker, 60, and Jaimie Elliott, 3, were all pronounced dead by the Wayne County Coroner.
On Saturday, March 9, seven people, including five children, died from smoke inhalation after their home in the Knox County community of Gray caught fire.
Those who died in that fire were Jesse Disney, 27, his girlfriend, Nina Asher, 22, who was pregnant, Asher's children from a previous relationship, William Gray Jr., 3, Camden Gray, 2, and Abigail Gray, 8 months, and Paiten Cox, who would have been 3 this month, and Brielle Cox, 2.
A father and his four young children were killed in January when their home caught fire in Pike County. Billy Wilfong and his children, Dakota, 5, Tyler, 4, Cheyenne, 2, and Emily, 6 months, died from their injuries. The children’s mother escaped and was hospitalized with injuries.
The Kentucky Fire Commission said on Wednesday there have been 22 fire-related fatalities since the beginning of the year. That number does not include Cain’s death.