Posted 11:13 PM 4/19/2012 : Smoke detector credited for saving family's life
TUCSON - A Tucson family is out of a home, but thankful to be alive after a fire ripped through their house while they were asleep.
It happened Thursday afternoon, off Sandbrook Lane, just off of Shannon Road. A woman and her two babies were inside sleeping at the time of the fire, but they all made it out safely.
Firefighters said an accidental electrical problem caused the fire, but that's not why it got to be so big. They said it was combustible materials built up in the garage, including propane tanks that made the fire just blow up.
The then fire started the family was inside sleeping until a smoke detector woke them up; something the family credits for saving their lives.
Melissa Thrall is a victim of the fire. She said, "Every person or animal that was living and breathing was able to be saved because we had enough response time to get out."
A decision she said was a no-brainer.
Thrall said, "It was a big deal and we knew it. We rushed and my son helped me get the other child and our neighbors came to our rescue. They held the babies while I moved the truck out of the way. It was just incredible."
It was a nasty blaze not just to the victims; even the firefighters admit it was bad.
Brad Bradley is Battalion Chief of Northwest Fire District. He said, "Based on the number of combustibles in the garage they experienced a flash which forced all the crews out of the house and completely engulfed the garage and entry way to house in fire."
Thrall said, "It was a blessing to say the least that we were able to come out of here."
But what she came out to was a horrifying sight for anyone; a home burning to the ground, but amidst the ashes was hope shown in a sign that said "Bless This Home." Thrall said it really is a blessing because the alternative would have been much worse.
She said, "I just kept telling myself 'stuff is stuff.' It can be replaced. I watched my house get ripped apart, but it's going to be replaced one day. That's all I kept thinking. Stuff is stuff and my babies are okay. There is nothing else I can worry about now."
Firefighters said this fire really points out that people need to be careful with what they collect in their home or garage. Too much combustible material can turn a small fire into a huge one very quickly, which appears to be just what happened in this case.
Posted 10:23 PM 4/19/2012 : Smoke detectors allow mother and kids to escape house fire
TUCSON - A mother is thanking a working smoke detector for saving her and her three kids from a fire Thursday afternoon.
Melissa Thrall and her newborn were asleep in the master bedroom while two other children were in their bedrooms, when the fire started in their garage near River and Shannon roads.
The smoke deterctors woke her up and allowed her to escape safely with her 3 month-old, 18 month-old and 6 year-old.
Northwest Fire says crews made a quick attack on the fire to keep the flames from spreading to the house. There was extensive smoke damage and water damage inside, but most of the families' important possessions will be saved.
Firefighters faced a flashover situation when the roof of the garage collapsed and 6 firefighters were able to escape from the front door without injuries. Smoke conditions were at zero visibility inside the home as firefighter made their way out of the building. The fire was fought from the exterior of the house until the majority of the garage flames were under control.
Investigators ruled the fire accidental as a result of a mechanical failure or electrical failure to the garage door opener. Damage estimates were initially placed at $75,000. The initial interior firefighters were able to rescue 1 cat and a large dog from the house, but unfortunately a second cat was later found dead in the home. The Northwest Fire District's Community Assistance Program team members and the local Red Cross were at the scene to assist the family with needs after the fire.
The couple told investigators that they change their smoke detector batteries twice a year and are thankful that they were in good working order.
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