A disabled smoke alarm may have caused a man his life.
A small fire in an apartment at Dodge City’s South Hi-Rise resulted in the death of the man who lived in the residence on Saturday. He lived on the third floor of the building.
"We got a call from someone living on the fourth floor," said Robert Heinz, Dodge City Fire Department chief. "When we got there, there was no fire evident — no flames or smoke coming from windows — so it took a little while to find exactly where the fire was at."
Heinz reported the fire alarm in the apartment had been disabled.
"The man fell asleep and left the stove on. If the fire alarm was working, that person would have lived," Heinz said. "Everyone should make sure their fire alarms are in working order.
"It’s a simple thing, but it saves lives."
While several residents were evacuated from their apartments for a short time, Heinz said only one apartment was damaged with smoke bad enough the furnace wasn’t working correctly and that was the apartment with the fire.
"We don’t know if there is a problem with the furnace yet," said Matt Brady, executive director of the Dodge City Housing Authority. "We really haven’t been in the apartment and assessed everything because we’ve got a skeleton crew right now.
"There really is no fire damage, it’s all smoke damage. The apartment below has some water damage from the fire department’s hitting hot spots, just to make sure there was no fire, but the majority of the damage is just smoke damage."
Brady identified the deceased as Allen Barrand who was a heavy smoker. A records check showed Barrand to be 54.
"I’m sure the reason for the fire alarm being disabled is because he accidentally set it off, maybe while cooking, and he just got annoyed with it," Brady said. "It’s definitely something we learned and we’re going to use that knowledge to help us.
"Fire alarms are important and we don’t want residents to disable them."
Brady also said most residents who were evacuated from their homes for safety reasons returned quickly.
"A couple of them on either side didn’t know anything about it until the fire department showed up," Brady said. "The people upstairs, who got some smoke, said they could just open the windows and air things out."
Police and fire officials said Barrand’s cause of death has not been officially declared, meaning smoke inhalation is assumed until confirmed.
"Officers and a detective responded to the fire," said Drew Francis, Dodge City Police Department chief, by email when asked the police department’s involvement.
Rumors in Dodge City over the weekend also said there was a stabbing attack locally. Francis said there were no stabbing assaults reported to DCPD and the biggest thing reported was a verbal argument at a local restaurant and bar.
For Heinz, the death of a local man didn’t need to occur.
"It’s a smoke alarm," he said. "It could have saved his life, but it’s disabled.
"That shouldn’t have happened, but it does all too often."