Fire warning systems save a life, home

14 May, 1990 (~estimated)

Fire warning systems save a life, home

By Jon P. McAlpin
Staff Writer

A smoke detector and alarm system combined to save the life of a Princeton Township woman last week.

Fire officials said the unidentified woman woke to the sounds of a personal smoke alarm as black clouds started to fill the Arreton Road house at 1.1 p.m: Thursday.

“If that house didn’t have that alarm system, that would have been a big fire, a big fire.” Chief Eric Karch said.

“If it didn’t have an alarm —forget it. Definitely, it’s a possibility that it, saved a life that night,” the fire chief said.

An internal alarm notified township police when the flames —sparked by a faulty light fixture — broke through a first floor ceiling, police and fire officials said.

The time saved by the alarm system more than off-set a delay firefighters had in getting to a fire hydrant, officials said.

Volunteers had to run hoses 1,500 feet to a hydrant in order to pump water. Though hydrants do exist in the area, running the line into the Princeton Ridge development was the easiest, quickest and safest route for firefighters, Mr. Karch explained.

“Up in that area of town the hydrants are 500 feet apart,” he said.

Closer hydrants are located near of along Cherry Hill Road. Fire-fighters opted to go further because that road is being reconstructed and the trucks would have had problems navigating the unpaved street, Mr. Karch explained.

Volunteers attacked the fire immediately with water they had on their trucks, he said. “We had about 3,000 gallons of water that they started right out with,” the chief said.

”After that it was just a matter of getting (more) water,” Mr. Karch said.

The fire was under control by 12:20 and the 40 volunteers from Princeton’s three companies were off the scene by 2:30 a.m., he added.

The owners of the house were vacationing in Europe. The only person home at the time was a caretaker, officials said.

The woman and the firefighters escaped any injury.

Officials said the house was not extensively damaged.

“We probably did more damage trying to put the fire out than the fire did,” the chief said.

A light fixture attached to a beam inside the ceiling had been smoldering for some time. Firefighters had to break open the ceiling and other parts of the room to get to the fire, the chief said.

“It was a fire looking for a way to get out and it was finding one,” he said.

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