Just after Midnight this past Tuesday morning, residents in the 11700 block of S. Cochran St, just outside of the City of Willis, called 911 and reported that their neighbor’s home was on fire. The first Firefighters from the North Montgomery County Fire Department arrived soon after the 911 call, reporting fire and smoke coming from a double-wide mobile home. Two crews from Fire Station 91 entered through a window and quickly located the home’s lone occupant, identified as 58-year-old Steven Young, unconscious in a hallway. They brought him to a window where Officers from the Willis Police Department assisted in extricating the victim from the burning home. CPR was immediately initiated and the victim was transferred to the care of Medics from the Montgomery County Hospital District. Despite extensive efforts to resuscitate him, he did not survive and was eventually declared deceased by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack. Judge Mack ordered an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Initial autopsy results confirmed that the victim was overcome by smoke as he was trying to escape the fire.
Investigators from the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office are continuing their investigation into the cause of the fire. The fire originated in another room of the victim’s home and quickly filled the home with thick smoke and toxic gases such as carbon monoxide making escape impossible.
Investigators have not found any evidence that there were working smoke alarms in the home. Residents are urged to make sure their home has working smoke alarms in every bedroom, hallway, and living room.
Steven Young’s death marks the state’s 19th fire fatality since January 1st, and Texas leads the nation so far in 2021, with 180 deaths reported across the nation in the new year. January is the leading month for home fire deaths and the vast majority of these deaths occur in homes that lack working smoke alarms.
This home is reported to be a rental property and part of the investigation will focus on whether or not the landlord had installed the required smoke alarms in the home. Texas law requires that smoke alarms be installed in every bedroom and bedroom hallways in residential rental properties. Tenants are responsible for maintaining them and replacing batteries as needed after their installation. If you are renting a home, mobile home, apartment, or even an RV, you should notify your landlord in writing and request they install the required smoke alarms or replace them if they are missing or no longer function.
If you own your home and need assistance with either free smoke alarms or installation, please contact your local fire station or call the MCFMO at 936-538-8288. Operation “Get Alarmed, Montgomery County”, is a collaborative effort between our County’s Firefighters and local businesses, aimed at assisting homeowners that cannot afford new smoke alarms or simply just need help to install ones they have already purchased.