Apartments in fatal fire had no smoke detectors

Fire destroyed a West Washington apartment Saturday.
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An apartment fire that killed a seven-year-old boy remains under investigation.

Residents of the building made frantic phone calls to 911.

"1833 West Washington, I'm trapped upstairs," said one caller. "Please hurry. It's getting hot, I don't want to jump."

"There's a house on fire and they got babies in the house and I can't get them out," said another caller.

Screams and slamming doors were the only alarms survivors heard.

"No smoke alarms. The fire extinguishers are totally empty," said resident Christine Tansy.

Trapped on the second floor, Tansy and her family jumped for their lives after dropping one-year-old Jax into the arms of a passing stranger.

"If I missed and he don't grab him in time," Tansy said. "I was worried about it, but God was watching over us."

The small apartment building erupted in flames early Saturday morning. Firefighters had to battle flames, intense smoke and what one called a nightmare of small rooms and narrow passageways.

Separated from his parents, seven-year-old Draydon Webb perished in a second floor room.

"Smoke detectors do help to save lives, because it will give an early warning. If there was smoke, before it got heavy, before it got thick, the alarms would have gone off," said IFD Deputy Chief Fred Pervine.

State law requires landlords install smoke detectors outside every bedroom, as well as in basements and attics.

Inspectors' authority is limited to buildings of three or more apartments. Pervine says IFD had no way of knowing this building had been subdivided into five apartments. Had inspectors visited, they could have inspected common areas such as stairs and hallways

"We are not allowed into individual apartments," Pervine said. "It's the law."

Residents say the building was recently sold. Tax records say it is owned by JUMSAF LLC, but a message left at the Carmel-based company was not returned.