LAGRANGE, Ga. -- A middle Georgia family said they are counting their blessings after a smoke detector installed in their home as part of a safety campaign saved their lives.
On March 27, Nakia and Luther Bell woke up in the middle of night to the beeping of their smoke detector. When she opened up her bedroom door, Nakia saw smoke spilling through the opening and immediately jumped into action. She was able to get her six other family members out of their Addie Street home, but it was a total loss. The cause of the fire was determined to be an electrical issue.
The family is crediting their quick evacuation and survival to those three, free smoke detectors that were installed back in October 2016 as part of the LaGrange Fire Department's campaign to reduce fire deaths in homes that needed them.
After the fire, Nakia went to the LaGrange Fire Department and explained to Deputy Chief John Brant that she almost didn't let fire staff in to install the detectors because it was so early on a Saturday morning. "She was so thankful that she did," Brant said.
According to the Red Cross, 154 Georgians died in house fires last year. Since the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign began in October 2014, the group has installed more than 13,000 smoke alarms throughout Georgia over the past year, and the smoke alarms they installed have saved more than 240 lives nationwide.
"On average, seven people a day in this country dies in home fires," said manager of the Red Cross Preparedness and Partnerships Program in Georgia Stella Kim. "We're overjoyed to report that, instead of losing seven lives, we saved seven lives here in LaGrange with a free smoke alarm and the generous support of volunteers."
On Tuesday, the Bell family will get the chance to meet with Red Cross and fire department staff who helped install the smoke alarms, and later responded to the house fire. The family's 5-year-old son, who is now interested in becoming a fire fighter, will also get the chance to become a "junior firefighter" and tour a fire truck.
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