Yakima firefighters have battled a lot of home and apartment fires so far this winter season. Many have been caused by space heaters and woodstoves. Earlier this month a 4-year-old girl was killed in a shed fire on Ahtanum. She was one of two children under the age of 5 that have died in fires this year in the state. The fire happened in a wooden shed in the backyard of a home in the 7600 block of Ahtanum Road. Firefighters arrived to find the shed engulfed in flames. After dousing the fire they found the bodies of 49-year-old Fernando Ornelas and his 4-year-old daughter, Audrey.  Both died of smoke inhalation. No foul play is suspected but lots of questions remain as the investigation continues. The fire was caused by a space heater.

The deaths have prompted to Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office to remind families to take time to talk about fire safety.

Besides having working smoke alarms firefighters urge families to talk to kids about the danger of fire and to practice a home escape plan.

Ensure your home has working smoke alarms in each bedroom, in the hallways outside the bedrooms, and on each floor of the home, including basements.

Ensure everyone in the home is familiar with the purpose of the smoke alarms and the sound they make when smoke is present.

Develop a home fire escape plan with your children.  Incorporate sounding the smoke alarms (using the test button), and having all household member practice getting out of the house to a safe, designated meeting place. Identify more than one way to get out, even if that means using windows.  Include steps to assisting others who may not be able to respond without help.

For additional tools to help create a home fire escape plan, visit the SFMO website. For further information, contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office at (360) 596-3929.