Firefighters credit alarm for saving family

Firefighters credit alarm for saving family
By Allan Benner
The Standard
Link to article: Firefighters credit alarm for saving family

A St. Catharines family escaped uninjured after being alerted to a late-night fire by a smoke alarm last week.

St. Catharines Fire and Emergency Services senior investigator Lars Larson said a woman was in the basement of her family’s 5 Wilholme Dr. home when incense burning on a sewing table spread to nearby flammable fabric shortly before 11:30 p.m. Thursday when most of the family, whom firefighters have not identified, were asleep upstairs.

The ringing of a smoke alarm alerted the woman’s attention to the spreading flames.

“She attempted to extinguish it and realized it was too far gone,” Larson said. “She was screaming for her husband to get up, and they got the kids out of the house.”

If not for the actions of the woman, St. Catharines acting fire Chief Jeff McCormick said, the situation could have escalated quickly.

“Any time there’s a fire and if it goes undetected, absolutely people are in danger,” he said.

“A fire has the ability to double in size approximately every 30 seconds. The quicker a family is alerted to a fire, the quicker they have the ability to escape that fire.

“It’s not necessarily the direct flame impingement, it’s the products of combustion — the carbon monoxide — that cause the most harm to people nowadays.”

McCormick said a quick response by firefighters, who arrived within about five minutes of being notified, helped contain the fire to the basement and minimize damage to the building to about $30,000.

“There was limited damage,” he said, although he said there was heavy smoke in the basement when firefighters arrived.

“The fire crews did a good job of getting in and getting the fire under control, in a quick period of time.”

McCormick also reminded people about the hazards associated with the use of incense or candles.

“Never leave candles and incense burners unattended and always put them out when you leave the room,” McCormick said in a media release. “Keep them away from curtains, lampshades and other flammable objects and use them in sturdy, fire-proof containers. Always keep them out of reach from children and away from pets.”

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