2-alarm blaze: Woman who used wheelchair died in house fire; no working smoke detectors

MILWAUKEE -- A woman who used a wheelchair died in a house fire early Wednesday morning, March 21 near 20th and North in Milwaukee. Fire officials say the blaze spread to a neighboring home. One home had a working smoke detector, while the other did not.

Officials with the Milwaukee Fire Department on Wednesday afternoon went door-to-door in the neighborhood, installing smoke detectors in an effort to prevent another tragedy like the one that happened Wednesday morning.

Firefighters go door-to-door near 20th and North after fatal fire

"If we have them in our homes, we know we can reduce our fire deaths to zero. That's our goal," said Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing Wednesday afternoon.

"That smoke detector would have started early in the fire, as it was when we got there. We had two houses burning and fire travels fast. The immensity of the fire involvement when we got there suggests it was burning for a while," said Milwaukee Fire Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski.

Firefighters go door-to-door near 20th and North after fatal fire

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene around 4 a.m. for the report of a fire with a person trapped inside.

When crews arrived on scene, they found fire on the first floor, extending to the second floor -- and also igniting a neighboring home. Fire officials immediately called for a second alarm -- bringing additional resources to the scene.

Firefighters go door-to-door near 20th and North after fatal fire

Fire near 20th and North in Milwaukee

Fire near 20th and North in Milwaukee

Upon entry into the primary building, crews began to extinguish the blaze and search for occupants --  finding a woman inside the home. The victim has been identified as 55-year-old Sharon Murdock.

Fire near 20th and North in Milwaukee

Four others were able to escape the building -- with one man being transported to St. Luke’s Hospital for treatment of injuries not believed to be life-threatening.

The Red Cross was also called to the scene to assist approximately 15 residents.

The fire is currently being investigated by MFD’s Fire Investigation Unit, the Milwaukee Police Department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. A damage estimate has not been released.

Firefighters go door-to-door near 20th and North after fatal fire

Firefighters go door-to-door near 20th and North after fatal fire

There were no working smoke detectors in the home where the woman died.

Fire near 20th and North in Milwaukee

Fire near 20th and North in Milwaukee

Firefighters go door-to-door near 20th and North after fatal fire

If you are in need of a smoke alarm, please call the Smoke Alarm Hotline at the number listed below. Arrangements will be made for Milwaukee Firefighters to come to your residence and install a smoke alarm free of charge.

SMOKE ALARM HOTLINE: 414-286-8980