Smoke Alarms Save Lives!
At about 3:20am I was awakened by a loud pop and the sound of glass. It sounded like a champagne cork popping and the clinking together of glasses.
I was drowsy and at first thought it was a dream. I was about to go back to sleep however I heard a faint beeping sound that sounded like a smoke alarm or car alarm.
As the self appointed neighborhood watch person, I decided to wake up and look outside the front of my house. At first I didn’t see anything but continued to hear the faint sound of an alarm.
I put on a winter coat and a pair of running shoes, grabbed my cell phone, and decided to walk up and down the street. As I walked East, I noticed a red glow coming from the side of my neighbor’s house.
When I walked to the side of the house I saw flames coming out of the side of the house. I immediately called 911 and reported the fire to the operator. The operator assured me that someone was on the way.
I then tried to use the garden hose to douse the flames but it didn’t work. All the while I was shouting “FIRE” at the top of my lungs.
Once I realized the hose wasn’t working, I pounded on the neighbors doors until my knuckles bled, continuing to shout “FIRE”. The neighbors all woke up and I asked everybody to please move their cars so fire trucks could park in the street. Everybody moved their cars.
The police arrived in a couple of minutes. I felt like I just made the call and when I turned around, there they were! Ocean Grove fire professionals were there very quickly as well! A lady fireperson was one of the first on the scene and was already at the closest intersection directing us as to where to park our cars. I honestly felt like these professionals appeared out of thin air.
At this point I ran to the next street behind the burning house and kept yelling “FIRE”. I managed to get the dogs barking in the house behind the burning house and the lady of the house came to the front door. As I started to speak to her a police officer had hopped her fence and was at her front door.
When I ran back to my street the street was full of fire trucks, fire hoses, and fire professionals from many different fire houses; there were so many of them. I couldn’t believe they got there so fast!
At this point I decided to watch from across the street. I noticed the Minister from the local church and decided to talk with him for a while. While I was talking, I felt a cool breeze across my legs. I looked down and noticed I had no pants on. I had been running around the whole time with just a winter jacket, running shoes, and undershorts. I went home and put pants on.
When I spoke to the owner of the burned house the next day, I told her that her smoke alarm woke me up. She said that it didn’t help because nobody was home. I responded by telling her that although the smoke alarm didn’t save her house, it may very well have saved her neighbors’ houses and perhaps their lives as well. The last several times we had fires like this we lost many houses because the fires grew unnoticed until too late, and then spread to the surrounding houses. A lot of houses in Ocean Grove are only 5 to 10 feet apart.
To think that if the homeowners did not have a smoke alarm, I would not have responded. Please use smoke alarms. If you already have smoke alarms, please test them.