As Atmore’s top fire official, Ron Peebles has for years preached the importance of smoke alarms in minimizing the devastating effects of house fires and helping to save lives. A Union Street resident is now a firm believer.
The unidentified woman was awakened during the predawn hours of December 29 by the screeching of the battery-powered device and was able to escape without harm when fire broke out in her home.
“She had a smoke alarm, and it woke her from a dead sleep in the middle of the night,” said Peebles, noting that an electrical short triggered the blaze. “That was good. She was able to get out and call the fire department before things got out of hand.”
Firefighters were dispatched at 2:43 a.m. and arrived four minutes later to find “light flames and heavy smoke” coming from the wooden dwelling, most of it from a vacant bedroom that was being used for storage.
AFD personnel were able to gain control of the fire fairly quickly, but remained on the scene until 4:11 a.m. to evacuate smoke from the house and make sure the flames did not flare up again. According to fire reports, the house sustained “a lot of smoke damage and some heat damage.”
Most of the fire and smoke damage was in the room where the electrical short occurred, although fire reports show that the smoke spread throughout the home and heat from the blaze “melted the back of the television and the top of the Christmas tree.”
The fire chief reiterated that smoke detectors are an important addition to any home, but pointed out that their presence alone wasn’t a sufficient warning system.
“Without a smoke alarm, this fire could have been a lot worse,” Peebles said. “Every house needs at least one smoke alarm. But a smoke alarm isn’t any good if you don’t change the batteries at least twice a year. People need to check their alarms and make sure they have good batteries in them.”
Fire officials across the country suggest that one way to remember to install fresh smoke detector batteries is to do so when Daylight Saving Time begins and ends each year.