A husband and wife are dead after Richmond fire crews pulled them from a house fire Tuesday morning.
Clara and Ray Humphrey, both 84 years old, were inside their home on Vinton Street in Richmond’s East End, where Richmond firefighters responded just before 8 a.m.
Crews first found Clara Humphrey in what appeared to be a study, according to the department’s fire marshal. Ray Humphrey was found in a back bedroom. Both were pulled from the home, and CPR was administered, but neither survived, the department said.
Investigators determined the fire originated on a sofa in the living room and was caused by improperly discarded smoking materials, the department said. They also discovered there were no working smoke alarms in the home.
The blaze was marked under control in less than 15 minutes, according to the department.
“I ask that you pray for the families, their loved ones, their community where they resided, and our city in that we will continue to embrace fire safety education, the importance of smoke alarms, and having [and] exercising proper safety protocols,” said Melvin Carter, Richmond’s fire chief. “These deaths, like most fire deaths, were preventable.”
This incident marks the 11th fire fatality in the city this year. That figure is five times the number of fire fatalities in all of the prior three years. In 2020, Richmond had two fire deaths; two in 2019; and none in 2018.
Smoking is one of the leading cause of fatal fires in Richmond, according to the department. And most homes where fatal fires have occurred did not have working smoke alarms.
The Richmond Department of Fire & Emergency Services will install smoke alarms for free. Residents can call the Fire Prevention Office at (804) 646-6640 or Smoke Alarm Request Line at (804) 646-1526 to schedule an appointment. The department also has a limited supply of smoke alarms specifically for residents with hearing impairments.