Unusually high number of deaths caused by house fires in Roanoke

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) -  Roanoke fire crews say the county is local is seeing an unusually high number of house fire deaths.

Firefighters say typically there is only one death every other year. There have been four already in 2016, including two children.

Three separate incidents have caused those deaths. Most recently, a house fire on Amanda Lane claimed the life of 49-year-old Robert Hypes Junior, who died of smoke inhalation.

While the cause of the fire is unknown, it is believed to be accidental in nature.

In March, an overnight house fire on Chestnut lane took the lives of 10-year-old Patrick McKinnon and 5-year-old Logan McKinnon.

The fires have been in close proximity but investigators say they are unrelated.

Brian Clingenpeel, Roanoke County Fire and EMS Community Outreach Coordinator says the four deaths have not only been hard for the families and the community, but for the firefighters.

"Our job is to serve and protect, and when we can't do that, it's hard," Clingenpeel said.

He says the three leading causes of fires are unattended cooking, home heating issues, and smoking.

"One of the biggest things I face is that attitude of 'oh it will never happen here.' Well it does happen here," Clingenpeel said. "We've seen that in very poignant ways in the past several weeks, and the past several months that it does happen here."

Clingenpeel says it's crucial every home have a fire escape plan and working smoke detectors.

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