Following fatal fire, Milwaukee firefighters go door to door with smoke detectors

NOW: Following fatal fire, Milwaukee firefighters go door to door with smoke detectors

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Investigators are still looking into what caused a deadly fire in the Burnham Park neighborhood on Thursday that left more than 100 people displaced.

On Saturday, Jan. 30, Milwaukee firefighters used the incident as an opportunity to remind people just how important it is to have working smoke alarms in their homes. The same crew that battled the fire went door to door on Saturday morning to hand out smoke detectors and fire prevention information.

"This is really about trying to make sure that we're not going to come back on this block to experience another loss of life, especially for these immediate residents," said Milwaukee Fire Assistant Chief Joshua Parish.

The fire happened in an apartment building at 29th and Mitchell early Thursday morning. Family identified the man who died as 72-year-old Nathaniel Beal.

"Whenever there's a lost life in the community, it really does affect the whole community," Parish said.

The American Red Cross told CBS 58 it is helping 105 people from that building, as well as another 17 people who lived in a northside apartment building that also caught fire Thursday in an unrelated incident.

Parish said both apartment buildings had working smoke detectors.

"Over the past year and some change, we've actually seen an increase in events like this, partially because people are spending more time at home," Parish said.

Parish said this time of year also provides some additional challenges. He warns of what he calls "common culprits" such as smoking in a home and improper use of heating appliances like space heaters or ovens.

"We always encourage occupants that ... if it's beyond what you can control or you're just really uncomfortable with the smoke detector going off, by all means call 911, and that's what we're there for," he said.

Anyone who needs one in their home should call the Smoke Alarm Hotline at 414-286-8980. The Milwaukee Fire Department said arrangements will be made for firefighters to come to the home to deliver a smoke alarm free of charge and will install it if the residence is COVID-safe.

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