ALBANY, GA (WALB) - About 4:20 Tuesday morning, a bedroom smoke alarm woke up the Stinsons. That helped save their home, and more importantly, their lives.
Firefighters are urging everyone to make sure they have a working smoke alarm in their home. The Stinsons say they are alive today because of theirs.
Tommy and Tonie Stinson left a fire burning in their fireplace overnight in their home on Eight Mile Road. They woke up to a growing fire in their bedroom closet. "The walk in closet we have, and you could see the flames jumping out of the closet," Tommy Stinson said.
The Stinsons' fireplace backs up to that closet, and had set the closet wall on fire. Tonie Stinson said "The room was full of smoke. I looked over because it was on fire."
Fire Investigators say the Stinsons' fireplace had a mortar breakdown between the bricks, and let the fire leak out. Albany Fire Department Investigator Sam Harris said "It's exposed to immense heat, and over time it loses its integrity and falls out. And therefore you have holes."
The Stinsons fought the fire first with a fire extinguisher and their garden hose. Tommy Stinson said "I chopped a hole into the wall and run my water hose from the outside inside the house and started spraying the inside down. That gave us enough time till the Fire Department got here and they finally extinguished it."
Firefighters recommend South Georgians have their fireplaces checked, to prevent these types of fires. "That's why it's always a great idea to have a reputable firm inspect your fireplaces at the beginning of each season," Harris said.
And the Stinsons say check your smoke alarms as well. "Especially this time of year. Especially if you have a fireplace, check your smoke alarms and make sure they are working properly."
They are very thankful this Thanksgiving theirs worked properly, and they were not hurt in what could have been a deadly fire.
The Stinsons did not have renter's insurance, so all the smoke damage in the home will be a financial burden. If you want to help, you can contact the American Red Cross at 229-436-4845.
Although it is widely known that smoke alarms reduce one's chances of dying in a fire by nearly half. Studies show that an estimated 890 lives can be saved each year if all homes had a working smoke alarm.
The fire death rate in homes with working alarms is 51% less than the rate for homes without them. 65% of reported house fire deaths in 2004 happened in homes with no working smoke alarms.