Oakland Warehouse Party Fire Highlights Importance of Fire Safety

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DALLAS -- It happened far from here, but it hit close to home.

Last Friday, a fire at an underground dance party in an Oakland warehouse killed 36 people who were trapped inside.  The tragedy reminded fire marshals across the country just how important their jobs can be.

"We're sad that the thing happened," said Chris Martinez, Deputy Chief Fire Marshal with Dallas Fire-Rescue. "We try to look at it from the standpoint of what could have happened to have prevented something like this.  And it makes us remember why we're doing our job, and it makes us that much more willing to go the extra mile to make sure that we're keeping people safe."

Often, that means keeping an eye out for underground events like the one in California.

"We find out about a lot of them," Martinez told NewsFix.  "Sometimes they go on without us knowing about it, so we try to be as vigilant as we can in making sure that we're out there, inspecting and making sure that we're aware of these things."

And sometimes, they have to be "that guy" and break up events that aren't up to code.

"Ultimately our goal is to make sure life safety is number one," said Martinez. "And sometimes we have to be the bad guy and we have to break up parties, we have to break up locations. It's not something we really and truly are looking to do, but we've gotta make sure life safety is number one."

Martinez also reminds us to keep ourselves safe, by making sure we can get out of any building we're in, and by taking precautions at home, too.

"Fire safety really truly does start at home," said the deputy chief. "It's a good idea to make sure you've changed the battery in your smoke detector. Proper space around any kind of space heaters you might have.  Just be very aware of the things that you're doing in terms of safety around the home."

Hey, you can't be too careful, y'all.  They're still trying to figure out what started the blaze in Oakland.

A fire can start anywhere, any time.