Another house fire without working smoke detectors

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A family of four, including a 5-year-old girl, is lucky to be alive after a fire rips through their South Richmond home this morning. Fire crews say there were no working smoke detectors in the home. We are On Your Side with an easy and free way for you to get a smoke detector, for free.

Suitcases are how this family will live for now. A fire started on the back porch and spread up to the attic of the home in the 3100 block of Cullenwood Drive. It was ruled an accidental fire that a neighbor saw, which helped saved this family.

"If it was a couple of hours sooner, this fire would have spread to the rest of the home and taken a life," said Lt. Shawn Jones with the Richmond Fire Department.

Jones said just last year the homeowner says she called the fire department to her home to install the detectors.

But just a year later, "she believes one of her family members may have taken the batter out of the smoke alarms," said Lt. Jones. That was in two of the detectors. The third detector inside did not have the battery connected correctly.

You'll remember the massive house fire in Chesterfield from last week. The flames shot through the roof. The home was lost, but the family was saved. However, the homeowner Sandra Hauser said her son just checked the smoke detector. But investigators say those smoke detectors were not working.

"He said the buzzer did go off when he tested it, so I didn't even know he tested it until tonight," says Hauser.

It goes to show you how important it is to check your detectors often. On average Richmond investigators says one out of every four fires in the city involves smoke detectors that aren't working.

"Really, it's not excuse as to why you don't have a working smoke alarm. We'll put it up for free and we'll replace the battery for free," said Lt. Jones. It could save your life.

To find out how to get one of those free smoke detectors in your home, call 888-537-5967.

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