published Monday, January 16th, 2012

Smoke alarm saves family in Chattanooga fire

The burned home on Skyline Drive lies in ruins after a fire early this morning.
The burned home on Skyline Drive lies in ruins after a fire early this morning.
Photo by Doug Strickland.
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Chattanooga firefighters credit working smoke alarms for saving the lives of an East Brainerd couple when a fire consumed their home early this morning.

Firefighters arrived at 1825 Skyline Drive around 3 a.m. to find flames shooting through the roof, fire department spokesman Bruce Garner said.

Officials said the blaze had spread through into the attic, then rapidly spread across the top of the house.

The firefighters were ordered to get out of the house for their own safety, Garner said.

Moments later, firefighters said the home was rocked by an explosion. Firefighters do not know what caused the blast, but it could have been the result of a backdraft. A backdraft is the explosion of heated gases that occurs when oxygen is introduced into a space within a burning building where the oxygen has been depleted by the fire.

Residents Linton and Judy Gilreath told firefighters that they were asleep in bed when a smoke alarm at the other end of the house activated.

The couple got up to investigate, and when they discovered the house was on fire, they immediately got out and called 911.

Volunteers with the American Red Cross were called in to provide assistance to the couple.

Garner said the fire caused about $275,000 worth of damage. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation, he said. The cause of the fire is undetermined and under investigation.

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