By Susan Koeppen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – When Ronald Egenlauf, his daughter-in-law, Hope Jordan, along with her four children lost their lives in a fire, the family had been sleeping.

The smoke and flames spread too fast for the family to escape. That fire in McKeesport is one of several fatal fires to occur in the region this year.

Fire statistics are staggering in the n the United States.

  • A house fire is reported every 65 seconds.
  • Someone dies in a house fire every 2 hours and 42 minutes.
  • Most fatal fires happen in the middle of the night while you’re sleeping.
  • It’s not the flames that kill you, it’s the toxic smoke.

“One breath is all it takes and it will kill you,” says Beaver Falls Fire Chief Mark Stowe.

Stowe and his department, along the with Chippewa Fire Department, helped KDKA burn down a house to demonstrate the one thing you should always do before you go to bed at night.

Shutting your bedroom door can be a life-saver in a fire.

“That bedroom door can keep out the smoke and flames for up to 20 minutes,” says Stowe.

In a house in Chippewa, we started a fire in the living room near the couch. Right next to the living room, there was a bedroom. We kept that bedroom door closed. Down the hall, we had another bedroom with the door open.

Within three minutes, the entire house was burning, the rooms were filled with smoke, walls and furniture were charred — except in the bedroom with the door closed.

In that room, the air was clean, and there was no sign of smoke.

“This room was very survivable,” says Stowe.

The bedroom with the door open was black with smoke damage.

“You would never survive this room,” says Stowe.

Of course, having a working smoke alarm on every floor in your house and in every bedroom is crucial to surviving a fire, but closing your bedroom door can save your life.

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