Family remembers house fire victim as generous, lively
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Relatives of the South Florida woman who perished after she became trapped inside her home when it caught fire said they never imagined the security bars they installed to keep her safe from potential robbers would keep her from escaping to safety.
As he flipped through a photo album, Archie Young, the son of 65-year-old Monica Joachim, said the photographs are one of the few keepsakes not destroyed by the blaze that decimated his mother's home, located off of Northwest 51st Street and 15th Avenue in Miami, Tuesday afternoon.
"I [visited] her like a week ago, me and her were looking through [the album], and looking at her grands and the birthday party she had and everything," said Young.
Joachim's family described the 65-year-old mother, grandmother and great-grandmother as lively, passionate and prone to lending a helping hand. "She took care of everyone, her grands, her great-grands," said Durant Barfield, the victim's grandson. "She took everybody in and taking care of everybody."
Joachim, who lived at her residence for 10 years, had security bars over the doors and windows to keep her safe, but those bars prevented her from fleeing her home once it caught fire. "The bars kept her safe, but it's kind of crazy how she couldn't get out of the house," said Barfield.
Neighbors who called 911 said they saw the house go up in flames and heard Joachim's cries for help. "When I turned back around again, she'd hit the floor," said Elestine McKinney Allen, who witnessed the victim's final moments.
Firefighters and police on the scene attempted to rescue Joachim, but the front door was locked and metal mesh over the windows made reaching her even more difficult. "The cause of the fire is the result of an electrical overload," noted Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Ignatius Carroll. "What played a factor here was, you had bars on the windows with no means of escaping through a window."
Area residents with security bars on their windows said they are now considering replacing them. "I think I'm going to have the gentleman that comes in [to repair] to check them and see what we can do to ... see if we can escape if something like that were to happen to us," said McKinney Allen.
Fire rescue officials advise homeowners with security bars on their windows to ensure they have an emergency latch. If installing a latch is not possible, tenants need to make sure their some alarms are functional.
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