Evan Anderson, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The OKC Fire Department sends out a stern reminder to people across the area, to be careful when installing burglar bars on doors and windows. Tuesday night, an 84-year old wheelchair bound man was trapped inside his home, and died as it filled with smoke and flames.
The OKC deputy fire chief says they could have saved 84-year old Lloyd Brunson's life, if he had an emergency release device on the bars. Tuesday night, neighbors say they could see Brunson lying on the floor of his home trying to get out.
"The door was open, and the bars were on the door," said neighbor, Ethel Jeremiah Tuesday night. "He was trying to get out, but he was lying on the floor."
Firefighters quickly turned from fighting a fire, to a search and rescue mission as the man inside screamed for help.
"The old man started screaming and he just died, we tried to help him out," said Leo Rendon.
"It's an empty feeling knowing someone is there, and you can't get to them, you can't reach them," said OKC Dep. Fire Chief Marc Woodard.
Dep. Fire Chief Marc Woodward says security bars make it extremely difficult, not only to enter and do a search and rescue mission, but more importantly for firefighters to exit the building if it were still on fire.
"Just like Tuesday night, we had two crews working on pulling the bars off all the windows just in case we have no idea where the person is at, unless we get a report," said Dep. Chief Woodard.
Woodward encourages residents considering installing, or replacing burglar bars to make sure they have an emergency release device.
"This can happen to anybody. That's the reason why you don't do bars on your home, because you panic, you don't know what to do," said a neighbor Tuesday night.
"It's not safe to have bars in the house," said Jeremiah.
Fire officials want people to always have two ways out of your home in the event of a fire, and if you have bars, everyone should know how to operate the emergency releases.
Other simple reminders fire officials stress, is always check your home to make sure you have a working smoke detector and have an escape plan for your family.