Fatal Fire Leads to Neighborhood Smoke Detector Sweep

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - It was a fire at 1806 Doran Drive in Odessa last Tuesday that took the life of 72-year-old Alice Richardson.

On Thursday morning at 9 a.m., more than a week later, a dozen City of Odessa fire inspectors and firefighters rolled back out to the neighborhood, this time, trying to protect the other residents by checking and installing smoke detectors.

Last week's fatal fire was the first one the city has had in eight years and the home did not have a working smoke detector.

"This is the first fire death that we've had inside the city limits since 2004," Odessa Fire Marshal, Detra White, said. "They had an old smoke detector that was not operational nor was it actually installed. It was lying on a piece of furniture."

But Richardson was using an oxygen machine and had oxygen tanks in her room at the time.

The fire was caused by a cigarette and with that kind of fuel, White said a smoke detector may not have been enough.

In one hour's time, firefighters checked five blocks containing 50 homes, making four installations and one battery replacement.

Resident Sue Ground was happy for the effort.

"I think it's wonderful. In fact, for years, we didn't have one," she said. "Actually, a fireman put ours in and it needs to be checked. It's probably been enough time."

Ground lives across the street from Richardson's home and hopes the new detectors protect the rest of her neighbors.

"I feel sad when I look over here because they had a beautiful place," Ground said. "Some of our neighbors will go to the service."

Firefighters said they will continue their smoke detector initiative, saying anyone who can't afford one or is unable to put one in, only has to give them a call.

They're happy to provide this service free of charge to make sure no one in the city suffers Richardson's fate.

"We will never stop," White said. "If we run out of smoke detectors, we will find funds. We will find some money. I hope that we don't experience another fire death anytime in the near future."

To ask about a smoke detector, call the Odessa Fire Department at (432) 257-0502.