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Free smoke detector alerts Mansfield woman to fire

COVINGTON -- Newton County Fire Service firefighters should be patting themselves on the back today as their hard work installing nearly 1,000 free smoke detectors has paid off in a very tangible way.

A woman who had one of the free smoke detectors installed in her home in November 2010 by firefighter Bill Langston and firefighter Travis Swords of Station 6 Beaver Park was alerted around 5 a.m. Wednesday morning that her home was on fire. She was able to safely escape and call 911.

According to Newton County Fire Safety Educator Lt. Cydnie Taylor-Ridling, the fire at 101 Kellogg St. in Mansfield turned out to be minimal, but it could have been a different story.

"She was able to exit because she was alerted. She had to walk past the fire and had it grown much bigger, she probably would have been trapped," Taylor said, adding that the blaze was contained to the woman's bathroom. Fortuitously, the fire burned through the water supply line to the toilet and the water extinguished the fire before firefighters arrived.

Taylor said the fire wasn't electrical, but was due to something discarded in the trash can. The victim was able to go back into her home and will only face plumbing repairs.

The victim, who has health problems and is on oxygen which is potentially flammable, was alone at the time of the fire.

Taylor-Ridling praised the efforts of Newton County firefighters who have installed 780 smoke detectors since 2008 in homes that didn't have them as part of the Fire Death Prevention/Smoke Alarm Incentive Program, administered through the state Division of Public Health Injury Prevention section.

"They've worked very hard, especially in that area. Station 6 has installed the most as they've been canvassing the Newborn and Mansfield area," she said. "Unfortunately, this program is in its final days. We have a backlog of requests right now and are waiting on the state."

Taylor-Ridling said they try to reserve the free smoke detectors for those with low income or who are disabled. However, she said anyone can request one and the NCFS would be more than happy to come do home safety checks, do an escape drill or even install smoke detectors purchased by the homeowner.