GALLIA COUNTY — Two separate fires in Gallia County this week highlighted the importance of working smoke detectors and the reason for Fire Prevention Week, which runs from October 7-14 — both aim to save lives.
On Monday, October 8, at 12:50 a.m., Gallipolis Firefighters responded to a house fire at 4907 Bulaville Pike, in Addison Township. Fire crews were on scene within minutes of the call, made entry and quickly extinguished the fire.
The local couple had been in bed asleep in their two story home but were awakened by the sound of their smoke detectors. In checking, they found smoke coming from their utility room but were forced to evacuate and call the fire department.
“Thanks to early detection of the fire by working smoke detectors and a rapid response from the fire department, the damaged caused by the fire was very minimal and everyone was able to escape unharmed,” said Gallipolis Fire Chief Keith Elliott. “This family responded perfectly to the fire.
“They recognized the importance of having working smoke detectors, responded to the sound of the alarm, got out of the home and called 9-1-1. That is exactly what the fire service has been teaching children and families to do for years. Without working smoke detectors, I am afraid the outcome of this fire could have been drastically different,” Elliott added.
A second incident was reported in the morning hours of Wednesday, October 10, at 127 Fraley Drive, Gallipolis, and Division of State Fire Marshal investigators say a mom and her son are alive this morning due to the brave actions of a neighbor.
According to Shane Cartmill, public information officer for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Christopher Williams, also of Fraley Drive in Gallipolis, went outside Wednesday morning and saw a heavy amount of smoke coming from his neighbor’s mobile home. Realizing it was on fire, he knocked on the front and back doors to wake the family.
The young mother was unable to get the door open, so Williams forced it open and got her to safety. He then went into the burning mobile home rescue anyone else inside.
During his search, Williams spotted the hands of a toddler through the smoke, pulled him to safety. Williams’ wife called 9-1-1.
The mother and child, as well as Williams, were evaluated at the scene but were not transported to the hospital.
Upon investigation, officials determined that the home was equipped with smoke alarms. However, there were no batteries installed.
The mobile home was completely destroyed by fire. The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental in nature and is believed to have originated in or near the kitchen area. The incident was investigated by the Division of State Fire Marshal and the Gallipolis Fire Department.
“This family is extremely fortunate that an observant neighbor spotted this fire when he did,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers. “Investigators say the outcome would have been tragic in less than two minutes especially since there were no batteries in the smoke alarms.
“The facts speak clearly: working smoke alarms save lives and double individuals’ chances of escaping a fire,” said Flowers. “I encourage all Ohioans to make sure their smoke detectors are properly placed, regularly tested and maintained. In addition, families should know two ways out of every room in the home and practice their home fire escape plan regularly.”
October 7 to 14 is Fire Prevention Week — a time to bring attention to fire safety. Fire Prevention Week began as a reminder of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which burned from October 8 to October 10 and killed at least 300 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings.
“During Fire Prevention Week, the Gallipolis Fire Department asks all residents to please make sure you have at least one working smoke detector on each level of your home,” said Elliott. “The fire department recommends that in addition to one detector on each floor, you should have one detector in every bedroom and hallway. Have a Fire Escape Plan, and practice your plan. Have a designated meeting place outside and in case of a fire, ‘Get Out and Stay Out to Survive’, then call 9-1-1 from a neighbor’s house.”