In wake of two fatal fires, Philly officials urge public to be more vigilant

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 Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, (from left), Renee Cardwell Hughes, CEO of the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania, and Mayor Jim Kenney urge residents to have smoke detectors in place. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, (from left), Renee Cardwell Hughes, CEO of the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania, and Mayor Jim Kenney urge residents to have smoke detectors in place. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia’s fire commissioner joined the mayor and American Red Cross representatives to ask residents to use common sense to prevent fires.

After two recent fatal blazes, including one over the holiday weekend, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said prevention is paramount.

Firefighters did all  they could to save those who perished in those blazes, Thiel said. Three adults died in a Wynnefield house fire May 21. And, on Sunday, two children and their grandmother were killed when fire broke out in a North Philadelphia home.

“Despite those best efforts, despite all the work that our firefighters do, sometimes we’re just too late — and there’s too much fire and too much smoke,” he said. “That’s what it’s so important to have a smoke alarm. If you can’t afford a smoke alarm, you can call 311.”

Renee Cardwell Hughes, who heads the American Red Cross of  Eastern Pennsylvania, warned against overloading electrical outlets.

“We are actually sounding the alarm to save a life,” she said. “If you have a smoke detector, you only have two minutes to get out of your home.”

That’s why Cardwell Hughes has been urging people to plan for an emergency — and how to get out of their home if the primary exit is blocked.

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