Elderly woman dies in Whitehaven house fire; Memphis Fire offering free smoke detectors

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Whitehaven neighborhood is mourning after a horrific house fire, and the fire department is making a push in the community as they’ve seen an increase in fatal fires this year.

Investigators say faulty electrical wiring caused the fire at a home off Applegate at around 3:30 Thursday morning. When firefighters showed up, they found a woman believed to be in her 80s dead.

Yards away, Terry Smith watched the flames grow from his back window.

“You saw a major surge of flames that kept going up, up, up,” Smith said. “A lot of crackling, a lot of popping and it was just traumatic, very traumatic. The wind, had it been blowing, send the embers and the sparks further this way.”

Memphis Firefighters tell us so far this year, just four months into the, year 10 people have died in fires. That’s compared to 14 in all of last year.

In this most recent tragedy, they say the home did not have a working smoke alarm.

Friday afternoon, firefighters went door to door in the neighborhood surrounding the home. They handed out alarms and tested them for homeowners. 

“If they do not have them, we will install a working smoke detector,” said Lt. Wayne Cooke, with the Memphis Fire Department.

Crews say their message is simple: make sure you have a working smoke alarm. If you don’t, you can get one from the fire department.

“We want to say it as much as possible,” Cooke said. “We want 100% participation in the city of Memphis.”

If you need an alarm, you can call 901-636-5650.

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