South Bend Fire Department installs smoke alarms in neighborhood after deadly fire

NOW: South Bend Fire Department installs smoke alarms in neighborhood after deadly fire

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -  The South Bend Fire Department teamed with the Red Cross to install smoke alarms in home in the Oliver Gateway Neighborhood near Sample Street on the city’s southwest side.

This just weeks after a deadly fire claimed 2 lives on Walnut Street— the South Bend Fire Department is working to protect neighbors by being proactive.

Fires like the one on Walnut Street… happen in a second.

“It’s pretty scary and it’s pretty sad. I couldn’t even imagine,” Manuela Rodriguez, one neighbor said.

“My heart broke,” Jessica Mota, another neighbor said.

Even though smoke alarms were put in just weeks before, two people died. But the two that survived, may have smoke detectors to thank.

“It’s possible; it kind of looks that way,” Gerard Ellis, a Captain at the South Bend Fire Department said.

That’s why just weeks later, the Fire Department joined the Red Cross to install smoke alarms in several homes.

“We have 7 teams doing installs; we’ve had pretty good success about getting inside the homes and installing the alarms,” Ellis said.

Out of over 150 houses, crews went inside 44 homes to either replace or add new smoke alarms – impacting 155 people.

“They added two because the previous house, the owner didn’t have any so they added two alarms in my house,” Mota said.

“They came in and they asked me where, if I had any smoke detectors,” Rodriguez said. “I told them I had one in my bedroom so they went to go check that one out and actually they replace it because i don’t think the batteries were working on it so they replaced that one.”

“If we can eliminate a risk, some people have smoke alarms, but is it older than ten years, technology changes. Even with rent, if you go into a rental home maybe the previous renter took the battery out,” Ellis said.

The smoke detectors were provided by the Red Cross and crews could install up to three in each home.

Neighbors are relieved.

“It makes me feel better. Safe. I didn’t even know that they weren’t working so it makes me feel safe,” Rodriguez said.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry because you can replace the house, belongings but you can’t replace a family member,” Mota said.

Fire crews not only installed new smoke alarms but told residents what to do if there is a fire in their home.

“It’s good to have a plan and i like that they showed me the app on my phone to show the kids how to get prepared if anything happens,” Mota said.

Neighbors say this should happen on a regular basis. Fire crews will be out there again tomorrow from 1-4 p.m. to finish up the entire area.

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