By Jack Fink

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DALLAS (CBS11) – After 81 year old Johnnye Hughes died in a house fire Thursday, Dallas firefighters will talk to neighbors about the risks of burglar bars.

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Relatives and neighbors say Hughes, a political activist in South Oak Cliff, couldn’t get out of her locked front porch because she couldn’t find her key.

Dallas Fire-Rescue says from 9:00 a.m. until noon Friday, they will canvass the streets around Blue Creek Drive to speak with residents on what they can do to protect themselves.

Burglar bars are a common sight in this South Oak Cliff neighborhood.

Firefighters say their best advice for people who have the bars, make sure they have latches that will allow them to get out quickly.

If not, Jason Evans, spokesman for Dallas Fire-Rescue says residents need to make sure they know where their key is.

“We certainly don’t want to tell people not to have burglar bars, but we want to educate them on some of the safety precautions associated with them,” says Evans.  “If they’re going to have them, make sure they’re going to have the quick release hatches on the inside.”

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Hughes’ house had the safety latches on her windows.

Evans says he doesn’t know why she couldn’t get into another room.

He says they’re still investigating the cause of the fire.

Randall Cyrus has lived next door to Hughes for 15 years, and says he removed his burglar bars five years ago.

“They’re not safe anymore. Can’t help. We lost a good neighbor because we couldn’t get her out of the house and it hurts,” says Cyrus.  “I try not to think about what I saw.”

Cyrus says he’s happy to hear firefighters will return to his neighborhood Friday with the goal of saving lives.

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