Community remembers man who lost his life in a house fire

- As family and friends remembered the man who lost his life in a house fire, Orlando Fire Department firefighters went door to door Tuesday checking in with his neighbors.

Johnnie Pitts’ grandson said the man who watched over the neighborhood and had a smile for everyone would have liked that.  

"He cared about the neighborhood.  He cared about everybody. He never turned anyone away,” Jeremy Pitts said.  

Pitts’ home was devoured by flames Monday morning.  

Firefighters say the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but they found multiple space heaters and no working smoke alarms in the home.

District Chief David Harris said the number of deadly house fires increase when the weather gets cold, like it has been in Orlando for the past few nights.  

Pitts said he hopes his grandfather’s fire acts as a warning for neighbors.  

"I believe they're aware.  However, is the accurate concern necessarily there?  I don't believe so. A lot of people just want to make sure they just have somewhere to go and call home,” Pitts said.  

Firefighters knocked on doors on the streets around Pitts’ Parramore home Tuesday checking to make sure everyone had a working smoke detector, testing batteries and installing new batteries and smoke alarms if necessary.  

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, three out of every five house fire deaths happen in homes without working smoke alarms.  And in fires where there were smoke alarms, almost have had missing or disconnected batteries and a quarter had dead batteries.  

With the cold snap and the tragedy of losing their friend, Pitts’ neighbors said they were happy for the visit from the fire department.  

"I think it's a great that the firefighters are doing this good deed in the neighborhood. And I hope there will be no more fires,” said Henry King.  

Orlando residents can contact the Orlando Fire Department or visit their website to request a free smoke alarm. 

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