Advocate warns others after 6 family members killed in house fire

Posted at 1:27 PM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-10 21:51:45-04

HAMPTON, Va. – Sher Grogg is using her tragedy to warn others.

“I don’t want any other family to deal with the pain that we’ve dealt with," Grogg told News 3.

In January 2015, her brother, sister-in-law, and their four grandchildren were killed when their Maryland home went up in flames.

“Investigators later discovered that an electrical fire ignited the live Christmas tree that had been left up after Christmas, which led to the extreme speed and rapid spread of the fire,” said a press release from Common Voices, an advocates’ coalition determined to create a fire-safe USA.

Wednesday, she was in Hampton talking about fire safety.

The organization said Grogg’s family’s smoke alarms sounded, but the fire was fast and too furious to escape. They stated that firefighters were not able to enter the home because the fire vented through the windows and front door.

“It took my family in three minutes," she said.

Even though the alarm sounded, “the only thing that could have saved them would have been a fire sprinkler system, which could have bought them the extra time needed to escape.”

Grogg is now using this tragedy to make sure no one else has to go through this pain. She believes they may have survived if her brother's home had a sprinkler system.

“You need to have sprinklers, if it’s at all possible. They buy you time and time can buy your life," Grogg detailed.

While in Hampton, she was joined by Michael Furman, a firefighter in Fairfax County, Va.

He dresses as a superhero to talk with kids about staying safe.

“50 percent of all fatal home fires occur between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m," Furman told News 3.

According to the American Red Cross, home fires claim more lives every year than all natural disasters combined. Seven Americans die every day in home fires and 36 more are injured.

The Virginia Beach Fire Department told News 3 that in Virginia, the number of people who died in fires had risen by 40 percent as of July this year.