Smoke detectors save family from electrical fire

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PHOENIX – An Ahwatukee family owes their lives to working smoke detectors after a spare refrigerator in their garage shorted out and sparked a huge fire early Monday morning.

It happened at about 3 a.m. at a townhouse in the neighborhood of Fourth Avenue and Chandler Boulevard, which is on the south side the Phoenix South Mountain Park.

Investigators believe an extra refrigerator that had been running in the garage shorted, causing the fire.

The Phoenix Fire Department said the family renting the home had working smoke detectors. When those alarms went off, they woke the family, allowing them to escape unharmed.

By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, the garage was engulfed in flames. Crews immediately took an offensive position.

The homes in the neighborhood are extremely close together, so the houses on either side were evacuated as a precaution. Fire crews were able to keep the flames from spreading to the neighboring homes. They were also able to contain to the bulk of the damage to the garage.

Flames gutted the garage, destroying a car that had been parked inside. The fire also shattered the windows of the kids’ rooms above the garage. The kids were already outside when that happened.

No injuries were reported. The Phoenix Fire Department said the smoke detectors in the house were a major reason for that. Firefighters are always quick to remind residents that smoke alarms save lives, and that proved once again to be the case Monday morning.

Simply having smoke alarms, however, is not enough. You have to make sure they are in working order, which is why fire-safety experts suggest you test them once a month and change the batteries once a year.

According to the Phoenix Fire Department, most deadly fires happen between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., when people are asleep. They also say the majority of victims die in their sleep. Firefighters call smoke detectors your “nose at night,” and say your chances of surviving a house fire double when you have smoke alarms that are properly installed and in good working order.

For more information about smoke alarms, call the Phoenix Fire Department at 602-534-3919.