Oklahoma City fire officials: Nonworking smoke detectors becoming deadly problem

OKLAHOMA CITY - It was an early-morning apartment fire - without a working smoke detector. Oklahoma City fire officials said it's becoming a deadly trend.

The fire broke out around 7 a.m. near Northwest 10 and Rockwell.

Thankfully, the tenant made it out alive.

"The homeowner wasn’t sure how the fire started, said he woke up to smoke and fire inside the apartment," said Captain David Macy.

The man woke up to smoke and fire in his Heritage Ridge apartments, but it wasn't an alarm that alerted him to danger.

"There were no working smoking detectors in this particular apartment," Macy said.

Macy said it's becoming a deadly problem.

"Since the first of the year, we had many, 19 fire fatalities," he said. "Right now, one of the linking causes to all of those has been no working smoke detectors."

In Oklahoma City, apartment complex owners are required to make sure smoke detectors are working. However, some of that responsibility also falls on the tenant.

"They're also required to be maintained by the owners, however the tenant shares some responsibility to make sure they’re not disabling the smoke detectors," said chief of code enforcement Prince Morgan.

Morgan said that could mean ripping the detector off the wall or removing the battery.

"A failure to install or maintained a smoke detector in a residential structure is a violation, and it deems that structure uninhabitable," he said.

If there was never a smoke alarm, that could be a bigger problem.

"If they’re not supplying those smoke detectors outside of the units, that code would be strictly enforced, that could be anything from a notice of violation, to a healthy fine to all the way up to jail time," Morgan said.

Heritage Ridge staff said smoke detectors are checked every year and told us, sometimes, the smoke alarm is taken off the walls by the tenant.

The fire department later confirming there wasn't a smoke detector at all in the Heritage Ridge Apartment.