The home at the corner of Sherwood and Porter in southeast Houston belonged to 66 year old Gladys Cotton. Houston firefighters had to cut a hole in the wall to reach the mother of three.
Firefighters returned to the scene of the tragedy.This time Ronnie Harrison and other firefighters talked to residents like Dorothy Sophus and her daughter about fire safety.
“We’re out here, you know they had the fire the other day up the street? The young lady passed away, you knew her?”
Sophus: “We knew her well.”
Harrison: “You knew her well?”
Sophus: “Very well.”
Harrison: “Yes ma’am”
Sophus: “For forty years.”
Harrison: “Forty years.”
He left them with important information about fire safety and checked their smoke detectors. If they didn’t have any, he installed them.
“So what you guys have to do, is your daughter right here, what’s your daughter’s name?”
Harrison: “Carol, what you want to do is test these once a month.”
Carol Sophus: “Once a month.”
Harrison: “How you test them is, you press this button right here (loud beeps), and it should make that loud sound like that. And it should hurt your ears a little bit, cause the purpose of it is to wake you up, okay? And this is the kitchen?”
Dorothy Sophus: “Yes.”
Harrison: “Well, you don’t want one in here because every time you cook, it would go off.”
Dorothy Sophus: “Awww.”
Harrison: “So, we’ll come back through and install it.”
Dorothy Sophus: “We sure do appreciate this!”
Harrison says when they visit each house, they look to see if there’s an easy way to get out.
“That’s very dangerous for us and for them, because if there’s a fire, you really can’t see, you can’t breathe, and you trip and fall, and then stuff falls, and it becomes very cluttered. Even when we go in, it’s very hazardous for firefighters when there’s clutter in the house.”
Alicia Dorsey was surprised but glad that firefighters came to her house.
“This neighborhood is a real old neighborhood, and there’s a lot of elderly people that live here. And some of them I believe, probably can’t afford the smoke detectors and everything like that, so I believe that’s a good thing. Because we need that protection and anything can happen.”
Late Tuesday, another elderly woman lost her life in a house fire. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, more than 2,000 die in house fires each year due to faulty smoke detectors.