Furnitures in homes burn faster, leaving less time to escape

MUSCATINE, Iowa (KWQC) -- The cause of the Muscatine fire that killed a mother and her two children is still under investigation. TV6 reached out to the fire department and found out modern furniture burns faster, leaving little time to escape.

Monday marks two weeks since the home on 104 Clinton Street in Muscatine went up in flames. The Assistant Fire Chief of the Muscatine Fire Department says when they arrived on scene, they could see just how toxic and intense this fire was. He says they're just glad no one went inside because things could have ended worse.

“30 years ago, you had 14 to 17 minutes to get out of a house that's on fire. They say with today's modern materials, everything that burns now, you're looking at 2 to 3 minutes,” said Hartman.

Hartman says furniture in this age is more synthetic and plays a big role in the toxic smoke that people breathe in.

“If you're in a compartment with smoke like that, it only takes two or three breaths, and you will start to feel the effects,” said Hartman.

When fire crews arrived on the scene, the smoke was dark, and that provided them with clues to the intensity of the fire.

“The smoke itself is far above anything that humans can survive,” said Hartman.

The color of the smoke can also tell firefighters what kind of things are inside the home, including carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide.

“When those items burn, when they heat up to the point that they start to give off gases, they give off very toxic gases,” said Hartman.

Hartman also says because people can't always see the dangers of fires, running into a home that's in flames isn't something they recommend.

“Making the wrong decision can be deadly,” said Hartman.

This is the first time in a while in Muscatine where multiple lives have been lost in a fire. As a reminder, the fire department urges people to continue to practice their escape plans so they know what to do if there's a fire.