Two Gastonia families escaped injury in separate house fires Tuesday and authorities credit a smoke detector for saving one family.
Battling the blazes in extreme cold conditions was a challenge, but authorities said crews performed their duties well.
Firefighters on the roof of one structure found the surface slick as ice and were “holding on,” said Chris Stowe, public information officer with Crowder’s Mountain Fire and Rescue.
Warm water coming out of high-pressure hoses quickly froze outdoors, but Stowe said firefighters did the best they could.
“Once you’re inside (a structure) you’re OK,” he said. “On the outside you really have to be careful about falling. It’s really tough. People don’t realize how much cold weather and ice affect firefighters.”
At 9:52 a.m. Tuesday, Crowder’s Mountain Fire and Rescue, the Union Road Volunteer Fire Department and the Gastonia Fire Department, answered a call to a structure fire at 4642 King Crowder Drive.
Crews arrived on the scene and found smoke coming from both floors of the two-story house. The blaze was extinguished in 20 minutes.
Damages to the structure were estimated at more than $100,000.
Stowe said a smoke detector alerted the family and they were able to escape without injury.
“This is a prime example that a working smoke detector can save lives,” he said. “Without it, there’s a good chance this family may be dead.”
The Gaston County Fire Investigations Task Force ruled the fire was caused by combustible materials being placed near a stove that was being used as a heating source for the home.
Fire officials reminded residents to never place combustible materials such as aerosol spray, soft plastic materials or paper in or around a stove or heating sources, and to also make sure homes have working smoke detectors.
At 10:14 p.m. Tuesday, firefighters with Crowder’s Mountain Fire and Rescue and the Union Road Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call at 111 Comer Ave. and found smoke and flames coming from one side of the structure.
They had the fire under control in 10 minutes and were able to rescue the family dog.
The Gaston County Fire Investigations Task Force is investigating the cause of the fire.
Stowe said the family of four had been asleep and that the father woke up, spotted the blaze “and got everybody out.”
The Gaston County American Red Cross is assisting both families.
Stowe said that while it’s unfortunate two structures were heavily damaged, “when both families were able to wake up and get out it’s certainly a good day.”
“The smoke detector did its job,” he said. “And the father did his job. He got his family up and outside.”
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