A Lubbock family awoke to the sound of a smoke alarm early Thursday, and now, they're grateful to be alive and unharmed. At about 3:30 Thursday morning, flames tore through their home at 1913 Avenue O, just south of 19th Street. The family and a family friend were asleep at the time, but all were able to escape safely. The family is grateful to the firefighters who put the fire out, but they're even more grateful for what the same firefighters did for them about three weeks ago.
It's never a good time, but this is perhaps the worst possible time for a fire. Right before the holidays. Nonetheless, Tanya Kinder is happy that she and her four daughters are safe and sound. She says they wouldn't be, had the shrill sound of a recently installed smoke detector not jarred her out of bed early this morning.
Tanya Kinder woke up Thursday morning in a sheer state of panic.
"When I woke up, the smoke alarm was going off, and I saw the flame come up over there and I grabbed my blanket off the bed and I tried patting it out," says Kinder.
When that didn't work, Kinder tried dumping water on the blaze, but that split the flames and caused even more smoke. So she, her brother, and a family friend, who were asleep in the next room, together gathered the four little girls and got out the house. Quick thinking, especially with five year-old Samantha undergoing dialysis at night and hooked to a machine.
"We threw blankets over ourselves, took the machine, and got out," says Kinder.
"Their first response was the right one -- to get out. Get those kids out," says Assistant Fire Marshal Marlin Hamilton.
Hamilton says that a frayed and worn-out cord on an electric space heater sparked the blaze. The fire spread fast because the heater was sitting under a window with long curtains, the perfect fuel according to Hamilton. He says it was indeed the smoke detector that allowed the family to escape injury free.
"Time was such a critical component in this fire. There could have been a death," says Hamilton.
A quick response from Fire Station One helped to minimize the damage, still estimated at about $17,500 according to the Hamilton. But it was the response of Fire Station One a few weeks ago that makes this story even more extraordinary.
"As we turned the corner, we realized we'd been there before," says Captain Thomas Cox.
These guys not only fight fire, they also install smoke detectors. They did it for Kinder and her family just last month at no charge. Part of a community block grant and public safety project to help improve low income neighborhoods, and it's something Kinder is beyond thankful for.
"Thankful for those firefighters because they were out here two weeks ago putting those smoke detectors up," she says.
"The fact that we put those alarms in when we did, that they went years without, I think God was looking out for them," says Cox.
Fire statistics both nationally and locally support having at least one well functioning smoke detector. In fact, in Lubbock, there has never been a fire related death in a residential occupancy with at least one working smoke detector.
As for the family, they're staying with another family until they get back on their feet. They unfortunately do not have insurance.