Witnesses alert sleeping family to house fire in Smithfield

Witnesses alert sleeping family to house fire in Smithfield (Photo: Smithfield Fire Department)

(KUTV) - It’s something firefighters said is pretty common but many may not be aware of.

A Smithfield family had smoke detectors, a fire started in their chimney early Thursday morning, but the alarms didn’t go off.

Sarah Zorn said she was just about to head to bed early Thursday morning when something seemed off about her neighbor’s home across the street, “I thought it might have just been a fireplace or something at first and then I saw the embers and stuff and I was like that isn’t right.” Trusting her gut, she woke her mom up and they called 9-1-1, “One second it was like nothing and then it was like pssshh,” she said.

Fortunately, Sarah and a passerby who knocked on the door alerted the four people sleeping inside, their home was going up in flames.

Brandt Pitcher is a Battalion Chief with the Smithfield Fire Department, “It was very lucky, it was just coincidence, who’s driving around at 1:30 in the morning in a residential neighborhood and notices somebody’s house on fire?”

Batt. Chief Pitcher said the homeowners had smoke detectors but because the smoke was going through the attic above the alarms they weren’t going off, “It would have been running the entire attic space at that point over top of their heads in their beds and it could’ve turned out really bad” he said.

Luck or coincidence. The family, while temporarily without a home is safe. “By the time their smoke detectors had gone off, they may not have had the time to get out,” Batt. Chief Pitcher said.

“I am glad that I trusted my intuition,” Zorn said.

Battalion Chief Pitcher said they do make smoke alarms specifically for attics. He also recommends getting your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly to prevent fires.


Photos and some of video in story courtesy of Smithfield Fire Department.

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