Upstate teen shares story of escaping house fire in hopes of spr - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate teen shares story of escaping house fire in hopes of spreading awareness about smoke alarms

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Jen Alewine and her daughter Madi talk about raising awareness about smoke alarms after Madi escaped a fire (FOX Carolina: 2/13/2017). Jen Alewine and her daughter Madi talk about raising awareness about smoke alarms after Madi escaped a fire (FOX Carolina: 2/13/2017).
GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Just two weeks ago, 15-year-old Madi Alewine lived through something that is still hard for her to think and talk about.

"We were sitting there watching a movie and my grandfather had already gone to bed. And these people started knocking on the door... They were like y'all need to get everybody out fast, your house is on fire," said Madi.

A fire broke out at Madi's grandparents home where there were no working smoke alarms. She said she knows the outcome could have been much different had it not been for those two people passing by.

"The story could have been completely different," said Madi.

Everyone made it out okay, but Jen Alewine, still worried about what her daughter went through, decided to reach out to her local fire department, Parker District, for help. 

"We were kind of left with everyone's okay, now what. And so it was an attempt to kind of reach out and see if they could share some of their experiences with her and how to move forward," said Jen. 

Parker District firefighters came out to their home and what they found shocked Jen.

"I thought I was prepared, I thought I had done all of the checklist. Our twins were actually riding to kindergarten still in their 5 point harness car seat so I thought I was covering everything to keep my family safe and it turns out we did have inadequate smoke detectors and not in the right places," said Jen. 

Chief Steve Alverson said that's actually a common problem in his district. 

"A lot of times we in our homes we take things for granted. And we think that we’re okay that we’re protected. We think that one smoke alarm is enough. We put it up one time and we forget about it. And we don’t think about the batteries and we don’t test it monthly and we just think it’s okay and we think it will wake everybody up, but that’s just not the case," said Chief Alverson.

In the past five years, Parker District Fire confirmed there have been 295 fires. In 164 of them, no smoke alarms were present. In the 131 where they were installed, only 50% worked properly.

Jen said hearing those numbers is startling.

"That's lives lost, that's families that are no longer together that don't get to work through problems with their families like I'm getting to do now," said Jen.

In addition to making sure alarms were properly installed and working, those firefighters also helped the Alewine's get an escape plan in place and talked them through what to do in case a fire does spark. Madi said the whole experience has given her peace of mind.

"I've been sleeping much better, say something were to happen when I was asleep, I'd be able to get out in time and the rest of my family," said Madi.

Chief Alverson said thanks to the Redcross, his department is able to go out to homes and install smoke alarms for free. If you or someone you know wants their home checked, call your local fire department. 

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