Fatal fire ruled accidental, electrical

Posted: November 14, 2012

The Winchester Star

Landon M. Heath
Brayden A. Berg
Two little boys died in an Aug. 23 fire in this Summit Avenue home in Winchester. The cause of the fire was determined to be sparked by something plugged into an outlet near the boys’ beds. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — An Aug. 23 house fire that claimed the lives of two young boys was accidental and started at an electrical outlet near their beds.

Winchester Fire Marshal Jeremy Luttrell announced Tuesday that the cause of the blaze — which occurred just after 9:30 p.m. at 210 Summit Ave. — has been classified as accidental and that it originated at a receptacle adjacent to the boys’ bunk beds.

Landon M. Heath, 6, and Brayden A. Berg, 4, died in the fire. Two others were taken to the hospital for burns and smoke inhalation.

Luttrell said that the fire was sparked by something that was plugged into the electrical outlet near the boys’ beds — right beside a mattress — but would not identify what it was.

He did say that none of the outlets in the room were overloaded.

Luttrell encouraged parents to educate children about the dangers of receptacles.

He said precautionary measures people can take to be safe include plugging things in where children can’t mess with them and using safety covers on outlets.

When asked if the boys who died in the fire played with something in the outlet near their beds, Luttrell said it remains unclear what happened.

“Because of the outcome of the fire, there’s no way to know exactly,” he said.

According to Luttrell, the victims’ step-grandfather was alerted to the fire by a hallway smoke alarm and attempted to locate the boys in their room but was unable to due to the thick black smoke he encountered.

He said the home had two working smoke alarms, one on each level, that were hardwired and interconnected and still sounding when firefighters arrived at the burning residence.

Luttrell added that having a smoke alarm on each level was compliant with building codes at the time the home was constructed.

Now, according to the National Fire Protection Association, to be totally protected a home should have one smoke alarm on every level plus one inside every sleeping room and one outside of sleeping areas.

Residents also are encouraged, according to Luttrell, to test smoke alarms monthly, change batteries at least once a year and replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

“That along with a plan on how to respond to a smoke alarm and exit the home to a safe meeting place could make all the difference,” he said.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com