IFD to offer smoke detectors at upcoming event

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This week family and friends will say their goodbyes to the family of six killed in the Olney Street fire.

Lionel "Leo" Guerra, 47, and his 33-year-old wife, Brandy Mae, died two weeks ago Saturday, as did their 11-year-old son, Esteban, and 8-year-old daughter, Blanquita. Fourteen-year-old Miranda and 6-year-old Fuentes died a day later.

The service for all six family members will be held at the same time. Visitation is Thursday, March 6 from 4-8 pm and Friday, March 7 from 11 am-2 pm at New Wineskin Ministries, 4501 West 38th Street in Indianapolis.

The service will then head to New Crown Cemetery for burial to begin at 3:00 pm.

The tragedy has touched my people in more ways than one.

Indianapolis Fire Department officials say it's brought a renewed focus on fire prevention, including a spike in demand for smoke detectors.

Ann Hoffman is passionate when it comes to smoke detectors.

"We wouldn't be without them. We have two in our basement, we have three upstairs, and a carbon monoxide alarm," Hoffman said.

That passion dates all the way to a night back in 1964.

"Just as I was falling asleep I heard the fire," she explained.

She and her husband and three children were fortunate to escape without being hurt.

"I turned the burner on and I went in to put my daughter to bed and decided to go to bed and I left it burning," Hoffman said.

While her family didn't have smoke detectors then, they learned an important lesson when it comes to using them.

"My husband checks them several times a year, but he changes the batteries on his birthday," she said.

William Wilhite says smoke detectors saved his life this past fall from a huge fire in his two-story home off of East 40th Street.

"I fell asleep downstairs and my smoke detector went off and I ran upstairs to see what it was and it was a fire," Wilhite said.

Just like Hoffman, he hopes everyone will learn a lesson from his fire.

"Always have a working smoke detector in your house, on all levels in every room and upstairs and downstairs," he said.

Each Indianapolis Fire Department has a limited number of free smoke detectors, but many are running out from the demand.

Department leaders will hold a free family event Saturday, March 8 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at Survive Alive, located at 748 Massachusetts Avenue.

The event will teach children the dangers of fire and how to respond. Free smoke detectors will be handed out while supplies last.