Red Cross installs smoke detectors in local neighborhoods after recent fires

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 6, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- There's a call to action in our community; the Capital Area Chapter Red Cross is stepping up to help after the death of a child last week.

A fire claimed the life of a five-year-old girl.

Since the start of this year, 14 fires have resulted in more than a million dollars in damages and the loss of people and pets.

Officials say it is undetermined at this time if the apartment where the child died had working smoke detectors. That fire is still under investigation.

Keith Nealy says his smoke alarm went off during that fire last Wednesday. After searching his apartment, he realized the fire was coming from his cousin's apartment next door.

He rammed the door down, saying "I finally got it knocked down after several attempts. I saw her lying there on the floor down by the stairs. I just saw her legs and I grabbed her by her legs and ankles and pulled her out."

He searched for the woman's two children.

"The smoke and fire kept me from going any further. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it to them," Nealy explained.

The Red Cross wants the five-year-old girl who died to be the last lost to a fire.

Tuesday, staff and volunteers walked door-to-door in the same apartment complex and surrounding neighborhood.

"We're wanting to make sure that everybody's got appropriate information so that you do know what to do in the event of a fire," said, Sharon Tyler, the executive director of the local Red Cross.

Officials say there should be a plan on where to run and how to get out.

"Always remember, you have two minutes or less to get out of a burning house," Tyler said.

For residents without a smoke detector or an updated one, Red Cross volunteers installed them for free right there on the spot Tuesday.

"This a good thing y'all are doing," Jeffery Darby said.

Darby had a smoke detector installed in his home. He said, "It's a good thing. That'll give a person a chance to save themselves by hearing the sounds of a smoke alarm going off."

"They save lives and we're in the business of trying to save as many lives as possible," Tyler said.

Officials say do not take your smoke detectors down or take out the batteries.

Those who missed out on smoke detectors while volunteers were out, they can call Red Cross at (850) 878-6080 to set up an appointment. A volunteer will come out to install them in your home for free.

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