Authorities have identified two Dodge City residents killed in a fire Thursday as 51-year-old Luz Maria Conejo and 2-year-old Pablo Antonio Coca-Conejo.
Both individuals succumbed to smoke inhalation, according to Fire Chief Kevin Norton.
The cause of the blaze is still under investigation but authorities have been able to determine that it likely started in the living room of the single-story residence located on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Comanche Street Norton said the deaths have been ruled as "accidental." Norton said approximately 50 percent of the structure was involved in the fire.
He also confirmed that no smoke alarms were present in the residence, which is against the law in the state of Kansas. The Smoke Detector Act, passed in 1998, requires all property owners to equip each floor in a home with smoke detectors.
Around 11 a.m. Thursday, first responders were dispatched to 1715 N. 2nd Ave. to a heavy fire engulfing the front and north side of a home.
Capt. Ken Spencer of the Dodge City Fire Department said four people were able to escape the blaze. Spencer said it took nearly 35 minutes for firefighters to put out the flames which spread throughout the house and into the attic. A crew of roughly 15 firefighters as well as Ford County Fire/EMS were able to keep the fire from spreading to neighboring homes while also battling winter temperatures of 19 degrees.
According to Norton, the deaths mark the first fire-related fatalities in Dodge City in approximately 20 years. In the early-to-mid 90s four members of the Ochoa family were killed in a fire. Norton couldn't recall the exact year of the tragedy, but said the fire ignited because someone was cleaning engine parts with gasoline inside the home.