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'Houston: I Have A Problem:' Deadly fire haunted sister 50 years later

Homes didn't have smoke detectors
Posted at 8:34 PM, Feb 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-14 06:16:03-05

Bobby Weich has lived in fear since her sister died in a house fire more than 50 years ago.

It turns out Weich’s sister Fran didn’t have a smoke detector. And Bobby didn’t, either.

"That broke my heart," said Bobby. "I went over to her place and you could see the smoke. The heat melted everything. And it was terrible."

She said Fran was smoking a cigarette and fell asleep. The cigarette caught the house on fire and Fran never made it out.

"1962, and I still think about it,” Bobby said.

Bobby has Parkinson's disease and needs help doing everyday activities. She can't get around by herself and uses a wheelchair. She knows first-hand that having a smoke detector could mean the difference between life and death.

"I called everybody I could think of. I called Council on Aging. I called everybody I could think of," she said.

And then she called the “Houston, I Have A Problem” hotline.

I emailed the local American Red Cross, and six days later volunteers came out and installed smoke detectors in Bobby's house and helped her family with a safety plan.

Now, Bobby can sleep a little easier.

Since 2014, the Red Cross has installed more than 1 million free smoke detectors nationwide as part of its Home Fire Campaign. The Colerain Township Fire Department is just one of several local departments that provides free inspections, testing and installation of smoke detectors in the home. You can also call the Red Cross at 513-579-3003.

If you have a problem you need solved, send an email to or call 513-852-1360.