Red Cross: Smoke alarm program reaches life-saving milestone

ROCK SPRING, Ga. (AP) — The American Red Cross of Georgia is celebrating the most lives saved in a single month from its ongoing effort to install free smoke alarms.

The agency plans a Thursday ceremony in Rock Spring, Georgia, to recognize families saved by the alarms and also Walker County Fire Rescue.

In two separate December blazes in Walker County, free smoke alarms installed through the program saved eight people: a family of six on Dec. 11; and two more lives in late December, the Red Cross said.

In the intense Dec. 11 fire, “we would have had six body bags lined up without smoke alarms,” Regina Dorsey, Walker Fire Rescue Life & Safety Educator, said in a statement.

One of the survivors of that blaze, 9-year-old Devin Wooten, had been curious about fire trucks and a smoke alarm display he'd seen at a school fair.

“They ask us if we wanted to get fire alarms in our house," he said in an interview. Dorsey then installed smoke alarms at no cost.

Later, on Dec. 11, fire broke out near the family's Christmas tree in the middle of the night. Brittany Mitchell heard a smoke alarm, and began waking up family members including Devin.

Devin recalls seeing only flames. He ran across a burning table and ran out a back door, he said. Now, the entire family is grateful the smoke alarms were in place and Devin remains interested in emergency services.

“I really want to be a police officer because I can save lives, and it's pretty fun,” he said.

In the past two years, Walker County Fire Rescue has installed about 1,000 free smoke alarms provided by the Red Cross and other groups.

The ceremony is planned for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Walker County Civic Center in Rock Spring, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In Georgia, nearly two-dozen lives have been saved in Georgia since the campaign began in 2014.

Nationwide, the Home Fire Campaign has saved nearly 700 lives, the Red Cross said. More than 2 million smoke alarms have been installed across the country.

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