Man escapes St. Williams fire

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A Norfolk County man is lucky to be alive after a structure fire in St.Williams Thursday morning.

The Norfolk County Fire Department was summoned to Queen Street East just before 6a.m. Crews reported seeing flames on the exterior of the building near the chimney. The home was full of smoke – the incident required response from two Norfolk stations. Investigators believe the blaze originated in the walls near a wood stove. Damage has been pegged at approximately $50,000.

No one was hurt and the fire is not being treated as suspicious. It’s unknown whether the owner had insurance.

“We can confirm that there were no working smoke alarms in the home where the fire occurred and there is absolutely no doubt that the home owner is lucky to be alive,” Norfolk fire prevention officer Michael Atkins said in a release.

The call to officials came after an occupant of the residence arrived home with a friend in the early hours of the morning and discovered smoke. He was able to alert the home owner, who was asleep at the time, and all three were able to escape and call 911.

“If there had been working smoke alarms in the home then the owner would have been alerted to the fire much earlier and his friend would not have had to place himself in danger to help get the owner out,” Atkins said.

Atkins went on to note that too many homes in Norfolk still don’t have working smoke alarms.

Fire Department public educators spent two Saturdays in November doing a door-to-door smoke alarm campaign blitz in different areas of Norfolk. In one neighbourhood visited, less than 11 percent of the homes were compliant with smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm laws. Thursday’s incident is the third time this week that firefighters have attended a home with no working alarms.

The holiday season traditionally sees a spike in calls, the majority of which are preventable, Atkins said.

“People need to start getting the message,” he said. “They must have working smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside of the bedrooms. The smoke alarms must be working. The batteries must be changed. The alarms must be tested. The alarms must be replaced when they reach their 10 year expiration date. It’s the law, but more importantly it’s about keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.”