RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Reno Police have released the names of two people found dead in the aftermath of an apartment fire in northwest Reno.
The Washoe County Medical Examiner's Office says smoke inhalation likely contributed to the deaths of 45-year-old Paul Therrien and 58-year-old Cathy Costodio, residents of the burned apartment, but determination regarding the exact causes of death is pending toxicology results.
Reno Fire investigators have concluded the fire, in the early morning hours of December 14, 2017 at 1301 Stardust Street, likely started in one of the bedrooms of the 3rd floor apartment. The exact cause has still not been determined, but the Reno Fire Department has not been able to rule out various accidental heat sources, including a space heater and discarded cigarettes. Investigators say they have uncovered no obvious evidence of arson or other crimes that may have contributed to the fire or the deaths.
The room where the fire started did not have a working fire alarm.
Since there were deaths involved in the fire, Reno Police are leading the investigation.
Reno Fire first received the report of two people trapped on the 3rd floor balcony of the Stardust Apartments around 1:40 a.m. By the time crews arrived, one apartment was fully engulfed.
A pet was also killed.
Crews describe the fire as "hard and heavy." Seven engines, 2 trucks, 1 Squad, 1 Rescue, 3 Battalion Chiefs, fire investigators and a Fire Chaplain were called to the scene. The flames were contained around 2:45 a.m.
Crews say the fire made its way into the attic, but was contained to the one apartment and surrounding area. Ten apartments were evacuated. The American Red Cross assisted 16 people and 20 pets displaced by the fire.
Fire crews say the third floor of the apartment building is now uninhabitable and there is damage to surrounding apartments.
In a release from RPD:
The Reno Fire and Police Departments would like to remind the Reno community that half of all home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. When using portable heaters please follow these safety tips:
- Keep all combustibles at least three feet from heating equipment.
- Portable electric heaters should be UL listed and plugged directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord on a heater.
- Never use portable fuel burning heaters (like a kerosene heater) inside.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
If you smoke please follow these safety tips:
- Smoke outside. Most deaths result from fires that started in living rooms, family rooms or in bedrooms.
- Never smoke in bed or around medical oxygen.
- Keep cigarettes, lighters, matches, and other smoking materials up high out of the reach of children, in a locked cabinet.
- Use a deep, sturdy non-combustible ashtray. Place it away from anything that can burn. Do not discard cigarettes in vegetation such as mulch, potted plants, or in plastic containers.
- Before you throw away butts and ashes, make sure they are out, and dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that.
Lastly, always make sure you have a working smoke alarm in every sleeping room and every hallway outside the sleeping room. Test the alarm and check batteries regularly, and have an escape plan if they go off.