The tragic fire-related death of an elderly woman and her son, with whom she lived in an Encino apartment complex, could have been prevented had the fire alarms been working, firefighters say.
At lease 100 firefighters reportedly responded to a fire that tore through the two-bedroom unit of Marilyn and her son Michael Ahrens at the Encino Spa Apartments on Thursday night, which took both of their lives and resulted in the hospitalization of six other people including one firefighter, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
According to Los Angeles Fire Department Captain Jaime Moore, none of the hard-wired smoke alarms in the 1965 building and the Ahrens unit where the fire occurred were working. It also reportedly lacked sprinklers, notes the Daily News. “That’s how it is for most people in Los Angeles,” Capt. Moore said of the lack of fire detectors in older buildings throughout Los Angeles.
While it is not yet clear what the cause of death was, LAFD officials are saying it was possibly due to asphyxiation due to the smoke. “What most people don’t know is a new smoke alarm costs less than a fast-food meal,” said Los Angeles Fire spokesman Brian Humphrey, according to the Daily News.
The LAFD spent Friday morning going door-to-door handing out smoke alarms, batteries and fire-prevention and potentially life-saving advice to residents in the Ahrens’ complex as well as residents of neighboring apartments. Additionally, the LAFD spoke of a text messaging system that one a month alerts subscribers to check their smoke detectors and make sure they are working properly. Interested participants simply need to text “smokealarm” to 4040 in order to receive the monthly text message reminder.