2 injured in Mesa house fire

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Jill Galus

Posted on December 12, 2013 at 6:16 AM

Updated Friday, Dec 13 at 3:53 PM

Map: Alma School and Southern

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MESA, Ariz. -- Two people are in the hospital after an early morning fire tore through their Mesa home.

It happened just after midnight Thursday in the area of Alma School Road and Southern Avenue.

The flames ripped through the house quickly, gutting the inside and causing most of the roof to collapse.

Investigators now believe sparks from a metal drinder ignited some gunpowder that was stored in a workshop in the home.

The man who had used the grinder was hospitalized for burns while his wife was being treated for smoke inhalation and lacerations. An adult son of the couple was able to get his parents out of the home before firefighters arrived.

Mesa Fire Department spokesman Forrest Smith says the man had been grinding down a screwdriver in the home's shop area where gunpowder was stored.

At this point, it's not clear if there were working smoke detectors in the house.

Firefighters say having working smoke detectors and having an escape plan are the two most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family in case of a fire.

Because a house fire doubles in size every 30 seconds, time is of the essence for those inside. Once a fire starts, you have less than five minutes to get everybody out safely. Having a working smoke alarm can give you that time.

Safety experts say you should test your smoke detectors every month and, if the alarms run on 9-volt batteries, replace the batteries at least once a year. The units themselves should be replaced every eight to 10 years.

"Smoke detectors are part of it, but if you don't have a plan, a couple ways of egress, you could be stuck," Kelly Liebermann of the Phoenix Fire Department said during a fire safety event in October. "People get into a panic situation. And what we worry about is them walking out into the smoke. It's not the fire that's killing people; it's the smoke inhalation."

Firefighters suggest you make sure there are two ways out of every room in the house and a safe place to meet. Practice the plan so everybody knows what to do when those alarms sound.

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