Smoke alarm alerts Green Cove family to house fire

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – Clay County Fire Rescue officials credit a working smoke detector with awakening two residents of a home about 3:30 a.m., allowing them to get out of their burning hours safely.

A small dog escaped out a door and was reunited with the family a short time after firefighters knocked down the fire.

The fire at 1621 Elsie Street in Green Cove Springs apparently started as a result of a lit candle left in the living room, according to officials.

Initial fire crews arriving within four minutes of the 911 call reported heavy fire conditions with approximately 50 percent of the home engulfed in flames. It took about 20 minutes for firefighters to knock down the blaze.  No firefighters were injured in the incident.

The home sustained approximately $75,000 in damage from the fire. An American Red Cross representative responded to help the family with immediate needs and relocation.

"This early morning fire proves how very quickly flames can rage out of control, even from a small fire, and how vital a working smoke detector can be to potentially alert residents and provide an opportunity to escape," said Capt. Bernita Bush with Clay County Fire-Rescue.

Officials urge every citizen to purchase and install smoke detector and to replace batteries in existing smoke detectors, and test them monthly. Families should also practice an Exit Drill In The Home, to ensure they can quickly escape if awakened by a fire.

Ironically, firefighters across the nation are conducting safety events and school visits this week in recognition of Fire Prevention Week, a tribute to the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred the night of October 8, 1871, and resulted in 300 lives being lost, 100,000 left homeless, and more than 17,000 structures reduced to rubble.

In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge designated Fire Prevention Week to coincide each year with the anniversary of the Chicago Conflagration.