Fire marshal says smoke alarms would have prevented two deaths in house fire

KANSAS CITY -- Firefighters pulled two people out of a burning house Wednesday morning in Midtown. Both were later pronounced dead at the hospital.

It happened at 42nd Street and Locust Avenue, where the fire marshal says the tragedy easily could have been prevented.

"A safe house has a smoke alarm in it," said Floyd Peoples, the city's chief fire marshal. "A safe house has an escape plan for children, elder parents, etc. There’s all these things you can do to prevent this."

Firefighters rushed to the home just before 5 a.m. to find it fully engulfed in flames.

Firefighters pulled out an unconscious man from the home. The fire marshal says rescue crews found one victim on the first floor and later found a second person on the third floor.

Flames shooting out of the back windows and doors initially hampered the search effort.

"The first search occurs during the fire, that’s the highest risk to our firefighters," Peoples said. "They are searching a house that’s still burning. That’s necessary if we are going to save lives."

Peoples says the house did not have any working smoke detectors, which likely would have saved the victims' lives.

The fire chief urged anyone in Kansas City to call the city's 311 line to get free smoke detectors.

The names of the victims have not yet been released.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Bomb and arson investigators were on the scene earlier Wednesday morning.