CALDWELL -- With the colder weather, firefighters note many people will turn on heaters, use fireplaces and stay inside cooking more, which increases fire danger.
The Caldwell Fire Department is gearing up for Fire Prevention Week in October, which is expanded to a month to have time to educate the community. With that, Fire Marshal Andy Cater took KTVB through a very recently burned home to show how the people survived and the house is salvageable.
On Monday, a home on Turning Leaf Street caught fire just before 6 p.m. The fire started in the master bedroom on the floor, but investigators are still figuring out what started it. What is known, is that smoke detectors helped alert the family to the fire, making them get out and call 911.
Two days after the fire, ham and cheese sandwiches are still half made on the kitchen counter, with bread still popped up in the toaster. The dinner that never happened, the cooking frozen in time, show how fast the Caldwell family left when their home caught fire.
"The smoke detectors went off. They heard smoke detectors. Because they were cooking, they thought the cooking did it, so they started looking around the house and one of the kids came upstairs and saw the black smoke pouring out of this room," Cater said.
Once the detectors went off, the children's mother called 911. The fire department was there in seven minutes.
"It's just amazing. This is just a great save," Cater said. "Five, 10 more minutes, we'd never have saved this house."
As it was, the fire burned fast, smokey and extremely hot. The smoke detectors melted off the ceiling. The entire upstairs is blackened and charred, with furniture, toys and clothes ruined.
"You can see one of the smoke alarms, that it melted. How hot it got just in the room next to it," Cater explained from one of the bedrooms. "These are the children's bedrooms. To do that kind of heat, to melt that, if a child was in here, we would have probably had a fatality."
The family is displaced right now, but they are all okay, and Cater says the home can be salvaged because of quick thinking and those working smoke detectors.
"If you don't have any at home, my recommendation is to certainly at least get them into your bedrooms so you're notified, and just outside your bedroom," Cater said.
Additionally the Caldwell family did, he says have a plan to drop everything, and get out fast. He says everyone should have a meeting place so people can be quickly accounted for, which helps firefighters know if they need to be in rescue mode.
A step beyond smoke detectors, Cater strongly advises homeowners to install residential fire sprinklers. If this home had sprinklers, Cater says the fire would likely have been contained to the middle of the master bedroom.
Earlier this year, he invited KTVB to a fire department demonstration of home fire sprinklers. Click here to see that demonstration of how fast a fire can be extinguished.