07/19/05 — Smoke detector saves man's life

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Smoke detector saves man's life

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on July 19, 2005 1:47 PM

A smoke detector saved a man's life today in a predawn fire, said a Goldsboro Fire Department official.

In another fire Monday, two pet cats were revived with oxygen after being taken from the burning building.

Meanwhile, a Saturday blaze that left two people dead and destroyed an 87-year-old house at 206 N. George St. was described by authorities as "a human-hands fire."

The fire early today at 1505 Rose Ave., could have been fatal, said Fire Lt. Frank Sasser , except for the smoke detector, which awakened David Montague, who was able to scramble outside.

"This was one case where a smoke detector saved a man's life, because he was in a deep sleep," said Sasser.

A furnace had been accidentally turned on and it ignited a rug on top of a grate on the floor at Montague's home, Sasser said.

Sasser said Montague believed he accidentally bumped a thermostat in a hall, turning on the furnace, before he went to bed. Sasser said a rug over the grate caught on fire and burned the hardwood floor.

After a quick knockdown of the fire, Sasser said, "We had to go in with a chain saw and cut a lot of the floor out."

Fire was contained to the floor around the furnace, but smoke damaged the entire two-floor home.

Damage was estimated at $10,000 to the home and $2,000 to the contents. The home is owned by Montague's mother, Faye Montague, who lives next door. The home was valued at $85,000, and contents were valued at $40,000, Sasser said.

Thirteen firefighters responded to the 1:11 a.m. call with three engines, a ladder and a command car. They needed 70 minutes to put out the fire, investigate the cause, ventilate the home and finish salvage work.

Cats rescued

A Monday morning fire that started in a couch damaged a home at 606 Stronach Ave. Sasser said the residents were heavy smokers and he speculated that cigarette ashes may have started the fire.

The residents, Hildea Allen and Joseph Wiggs, were in a camper in the backyard and did not know that there was a fire until a neighbor told them, Sasser said.

The couple had three pet cats in the home. One was found dead, and firefighters got the other two out. Rescue personnel administered oxygen to the two cats and revived them.

Fourteen firefighters answered the 8:06 a.m. call with three engines, a ladder and a command car. They needed 75 minutes to put out the fire, investigate the cause and finish salvage work.

Fatal fire

Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Rea of the State Bureau of Investigation said Monday that a further investigation is needed to determine if the deadly George Street fire was an accident or arson.

But he said evidence pointed to the fire as being started by human hands, whether intentional or accidental.

Roy Chester Rowe, 48, and Patricia Raynor, 38, died Saturday in the fire. Several other residents of the home escaped injury.

Rea said the fire started in a second-floor closet near the chimney.

No samples were collected by investigators to be taken to the SBI laboratory for analysis, Rea said, because the second floor was too unstable to support investigators.