House fire kills 1 in Lakeland, 6 others escape from burning home

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A deadly fire in Lakeland has authorities reminding people to have an escape plan in place should their home ever catch fire.

One person died when a house on Green Road caught fire around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Investigators say there were seven people in the home, five adults and two children when they realized there was a fire.

Six people managed to escape. An adult was killed in the fire. Deputies say three dogs were also found dead inside the home.

The sheriff’s office believes the man found dead inside the home is 78-year-old Edward McLaughlin.

McLaughlin’s 70-year-old wife and 39-year-old daughter were two of the adults who managed to get out safely. The other two adults were McLaughlin’s 22-year-old grandson and the grandson’s 20-year-old girlfriend. Two of McClaughlin’s granddaughters, a 2-year-old and a 14-year-old, also got out safely.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Officials want people to plan out what they would do if their home caught fire.

In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds.

Having a plan ensures that everyone in the household knows how to use that small window of time wisely.

A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas.

It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.

Polk County Fire Rescue and the NFPA offer these additional tips and recommendations for developing and practicing a home escape plan:

  • Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave — this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

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