LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- Two people are dead after a house fire in the Algonquin neighborhood early Thursday, and firefighters say the most essential tool for safety was missing from the home.
The fire was reported around 3 a.m. in the 1800 block of S. 24th Street. Crews arrived at the scene about five minutes later to find large flames coming from the building, and immediately started working to rescue everyone inside.
A young girl had already escaped on her own by the time fire crews arrived, but inside the burning building firefighters found a young adult who they brought to safety. That person was taken to a hospital and is listed in critical condition.
On Sunday, coroners revealed the identity of the two individuals who died in the fire. Ronald Bush, 62, and Sierra Bush, 26, died due to smoke inhalation from the fire, according to the deputy coroner.
Louisville Fire Department Maj. Bobby Cooper said the fire started in the back of the house. It took firefighters 38 minutes to extinguish the flames. Cooper said the two adults who died were found once the fire had been put out.
Several neighbors said a family of four lived inside the home -- parents and two daughters.
Ned Taylor, 13, lives next door with his family and said he saw the flames from his bedroom window. He said he quickly yelled for his family to get out of their home before the fire spread.
“So I decided to look at it and it was a fire,” Taylor said. “So I started yelling. I ran in the house while my sister was calling the police and I got my sister from downstairs, then I ran back in to get my cat from out of there.”
Taylor’s family escaped without injuries. Once they got outside, firefighters were arriving.
“I feel good that I saved my family,” Taylor said. “I feel good that I saved two girls from the house by calling firefighters and things. It’s sad that two people didn’t make it, but at least somebody got saved.”
The sound of the sirens woke Frances Gilbert up. She lives down the street with her son-in-law. She told WAVE 3 News the fire serves as a reminder that life is precious and can be taken in an instant.
“Take it one step at a time,” Gilbert said. “Enjoy life.”
Cooper said there is one thing that could have changed the outcome of this tragedy -- a working smoke alarm.
“When you have a fire like this in the middle of the night -- we were dispatched at 3:04 a.m. -- you have a lot of people asleep,” Cooper said. “There’s not a lot of traffic, we’re in a cul-de-sac. Without a smoke alarm going off that fire had time to grow from the incipient stage to get bigger and bigger and bigger to basically consume nearly the entire house.”
Cooper said the most critical part of surviving a fire is early detection. Due to the type of items in modern-day homes, many of them being synthetic, Cooper said smoke and toxic fumes kill more people than fire because the gas is more toxic.
About 30 years ago, Cooper said you may have had about 15 minutes to get out of a fire. However, in current fires, that time is cut to just a few minutes; another reason why smoke alarms are important is they can help you get out right away.
The Louisville Metro Arson Bureau is investigating.