AFD installs 130 smoke alarms in East Austin - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

AFD installs 130 smoke alarms in East Austin

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On Monday morning, Ella Mae Nichols' East Austin house on Tumbleweed Drive caught on fire.
The Austin Fire Department says it started when a space heater with a frayed chord caught a chair on fire.
Ella Mae's husband made it out...she didn't.

The fire department says the house didn't have any working smoke alarms.

"In Austin, the last 8 fire deaths that we've had over the last 3 years, we only had one of them that had a working smoke detector.  All the other fire fatalities occurred in homes that did not have a working smoke detector.  It continues to be that common denominator," said Battalion Chief Palmer Buck.

On Saturday afternoon, the fire department along with the Red Cross broke up into teams of 2 or 3 and knocked on 132 doors around the Tumbleweed Drive vicinity.

"90% of homes have smoke alarms in them.  A third of those don't work because the batteries have been allowed to fail or taken out so...that's huge," Buck said.

According to Buck, when they first started the initiative they would only be able to install one smoke alarm in a house.  But thanks to some grants, they can put one in every bedroom and the common hallway -- that way everyone in the house has that early warning they need to get out.

Laura Riddell lives with her grandson Marshall Williams.

Laura has been through 2 different house fires in her lifetime.  One in New York and another fire that started right next door to her here in Austin and crossed over to her place.

"I was awake and in the kitchen making my first cup of tea...I take a cup of tea about 6:00 in the mornings...when I saw the flames hitting on the Frigidaire...and I said, 'Where's that coming from?'" Riddell said.

AFD installed several brand new smoke alarms in Laura's house.

"Oh I appreciate it!  Now I can go to sleep more peaceful," she said.

The fire department says they installed 130 smoke alarms in 42 homes on Saturday.

The fire chief has a goal of putting at least 2,000 smoke alarms in Austin homes this year.

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