A woman was found dead this morning in a burned-out apartment in Des Moines. Fire Department spokesman Brian O’Keefe says it’s Des Moines’ first fire death in over a year-and-a-half.
Firefighters were called around 8:30 a.m. to the one-room apartment on the city’s southeast side at 1204 Hartford Ave, to check on the health of a resident. O’Keefe said it was clear by looking at the apartment’s windows that there had been a fire inside.
“They looked through the window, noticed a body, they kicked the door in and it was immediately apparent that there had been a fire an there was a victim in the room,” he said. The victim is identified as 53-year-old Debra Dillard.
There’s no determination yet how the fire started. O’Keefe said it does, however, appear to be “accidental in nature.” He said Dillard was a smoker.
It’s unclear exactly when the fire occurred because no one reported the fire while it was burning. “There were smoke detectors in the apartment, but they were not active at the time, that’s another issue we’re concerned about,” O’Keefe said.
The building, because of its construction, is not required to have a sprinkler system. The fire was isolated to Dillard’s apartment.