Family Escapes Burning Home - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Family Escapes Burning Home

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Shereida Jenkins says a working smoke alarm would have protected her family Shereida Jenkins says a working smoke alarm would have protected her family
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

 An East Albany woman urges you to make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your home after her home burned early this morning.

She didn't have a working smoke detector but she woke up in time to get her family out safely. Firefighters say they were lucky.

Shereida Jenkins says a working smoke alarm would have protected her family while they slept, and she was the reason their's was not working. Today she urges everyone to not make the same mistake she did.

Shereida Jenkins, her fiance, 16 year old son and 2 year old daughter were asleep in their Monarch Drive Home about 3:30 this morning when a fire broke out inside the exterior wall in the back, filling the home quickly with smoke.

"I was asleep and I was awakened by me coughing," Jenkins said. Jenkins said she was confused and scared, but managed to wake up the family and get her children to lead them out of the house in the thick smoke. "We couldn't see each other. We couldn't see each other."

Today as she filled out papers to receive help from the American Red Cross, Jenkins admits the smoke alarms did not sound because she had removed the batteries from them around Christmas, because they kept beeping.

"We was cooking, and it got hot in the house, and I got the stool and went up and unplugged both of them." Jenkins said she meant to put new batteries back in the smoke alarms, but never got around to it. Experts tell you that very few people wake up during fires because of the smoke.

 "No, actually it takes the oxygen away. So they sleep deeper. So she was really lucky that she was sleeping light enough to get up," said Red Cross Director Lara Gill.

"People telling me that I'm so lucky right now, because smoke was supposed to put me into a deeper sleep than what I was. But thank God it woke me up and I was able to wake the rest of my family up, and get them out safe," Jenkins said.

Most of the Jenkins' clothes and furniture were ruined by the smoke and water putting out the fire, but she is thankful that her family is safe. And she is urging South Georgians to not go to bed tonight without making sure your smoke alarm is working.

Investigators say the cause of the fire in the Jenkins' home is still undetermined. If you would like to help her family get back on their feet, you can make a contribution to her through the Flint River Chapter of the American Red Cross.

So far this year in Georgia the state Safety Fire Commissioner says 28 people have been killed in 20 residential fires. There was no working smoke alarm in 16 of those fires.