A man who was pulled from his burning Milwaukee duplex on Thursday has died and — as was the case last week in another fatal fire — his residence did not have working smoke detectors.
Milwaukee firefighters found Leo E. Roethig, 78, in a second-floor bedroom of a burning duplex in the 5300 block of W. Nash St. He didn’t have a pulse and was not breathing.
Fire department paramedics were able to revive him and took him to Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare St. Joseph’s hospital, where he died Friday.
Two new smoke detectors were found unopened in the man’s residence, Deputy Chief Terry Lintonen said. The lower unit in the duplex had a smoke detector in the hallway, but it didn’t have batteries. Three people in that unit were displaced and assisted by the Red Cross.
“We as a department view this as so important, particularly when children are present,” Lintonen said. “Early detection is so important, and it will absolutely save lives. Several people have been severely injured or killed, and it’s just not necessary.”
The fire department operates a smoke detector hotline for Milwaukee residents to call if they need a smoke detector or need help installing it.
Last year, Milwaukee reached a record low of two victims of fatal house fires, compared with eight in 2012 and 11 in 2011. The four fatalities recorded in 2010 had been the lowest annual total since the Milwaukee Fire Department began keeping track of fire fatalities about 55 years ago.
Three fires that burned a vacant day care and two garages early Friday are being investigated as related arson cases, a police spokesman said.
Milwaukee fire and police investigators combed through evidence Friday at the vacant Dreamland Child Care Center, located inside the Silver Mill Mall at 6205 N. Teutonia Ave.
The fire began about 4 a.m. and was quickly extinguished. Total damage was estimated at $25,000, fire officials said.
The day care moved about two months ago to a new location and the building had been vacant since then, an employee at Dreamland Child Care Center on Center St. said.
As firefighters were working to extinguish that fire, two garage fires were reported just behind them about 4:45 a.m.
The garages were in the 6100 blocks of N. 35th and N. 36th streets. No one was injured in the trio of fires.
If you are a Milwaukee resident and need a smoke detector, call the Milwaukee Fire Department’s hotline, (414) 286-8980.