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Fire officials: Disaster averted by north Forsyth family’s preparedness
Smoke alarm

Disaster was averted last week, when a Forsyth County family’s preparedness and quick thinking saved their home from an accidental fire, authorities say.

According to Division Chief Jason Shivers of the Forsyth County Fire Department, at about midnight on Dec. 19, a family living on Country Lake Road in north Forsyth was awakened after their home smoke alarms activated throughout their residence.

As they investigated the alarms, the homeowners discovered that the residence was quickly filling with smoke and a small portion of their living room had caught fire. 

“They ran upstairs, made sure their daughter was up and awake, got the daughter and the family dog out of the house,” Shivers said.

The homeowners then returned to the home and fought the small fire themselves, dousing it with bowls of water. When first responders arrived on scene at about 12:30 a.m., the fire had been extinguished and only smoke remained in the home.

According to Shivers, the family had recently replaced the batteries in their home smoke alarms in the fall, as is recommended by fire safety officials.

Based on the positioning of the fire, without properly working fire alarms the family could have died in their sleep from smoke inhalation or been trapped in the burning home, he said. 

“We would be talking about three deaths if they hadn’t had properly equipped and maintained smoke alarms,” he said.

Shivers also commended the family for taking the initiative to fight the small fire. He said it would have been preferable if they had a home fire extinguisher to use, but water worked in a pinch.

“We always encourage anyone that has a fire extinguisher, if the fire is of a manageable size, to get it extinguished,” he said. “They certainly could have sustained severe injuries using the water that they used, but in this case it worked.”

Investigations suggest that the fire was caused by a short in an extension cord in the home, which could have overheated the cord and the surrounding area, starting the blaze.

In the end, damage to the home was minimal and all residents of the home escaped uninjured, aside from some minor smoke inhalation.

“We’re confident they are going to be fine,” Shivers said. “They’ll probably be back home for Christmas.”