Springfield family says smoke alarm saved their lives

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo -- We are nearing the end of national fire prevention week. A Springfield woman is hoping her story is a lesson on how smoke detectors can save lives.

"It looked like a fire breathing dragon." said Genile Dennison. It was just after 2:00AM last Wednesday morning when Dennison was woken up by her smoke alarm going off in her living room. Genile says the window air conditioning unit was on fire and because it was still running, it was pushing the flames into the living room.

"It wasn't just burning up, it was burning out." Dennison explained. "It was the scariest thing I have ever seen in my whole life."

Everyone made it outside safely, but had it not been for a simple smoke alarm, it could have been a much different story.

"There is six generations in this house that probably wouldn't have walked out." Dennison added.

It is national fire prevention week. Local fire departments use this time to educate families on how quickly a fire can turn into a tragedy.

"Your smoke detectors are your first line of defense when you are sleeping at night, that is what is going to wake you up. That is going to give your that early detection that something is going on in your house that you are not aware of yet." said Tim Clarkson, the assistant fire chief with the Logan-Rogersville Fire Protection District. Clarkson says many fire districts will give out free smoke detectors for those who need them and may even install them for you. They say if you don't have a smoke alarm and a fire broke out while you were sleeping, you wouldn't know it until it was too late.

"By that point the fire is actually progressing far enough that you may not make it out of the house safely." Clarkson added.

"We saw nothing, we heard nothing, we smelled nothing." Dennison said. "Our alarm system saved our lives. Our alarm system kept six people alive that night that all could have died."

Firefighters recommend replacing the batteries in your smoke detector and testing the alarm each time we change our clocks for daylight saving time.

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