Woman Owes Her Life To Smoke Detector, Neighbor

CANTON, Ohio - A Canton woman owes her life to a smoke detector and a neighbor who displayed heroism under fire, 19/43 News' Paul Orlousky reported.

The screech of a smoke detector launched Michael Norwood into action. It drew his attention to Kitty John's home.

Kitty was panicked at a second-floor window as thick acrid smoke filled her house.

"I was over there, and I heard a lady screaming, talking about 'my house is on fire,'" Norwood said. "I looked at her again and said, 'She needs a ladder.'"

Norwood ran to another neighbor's house, found a ladder and helped Kitty to the ground. Thanks to his quick action, Kitty was able to go off to work on the day of the fire -- Monday.

The heroism couldn't have happened, however, without the smoke detector.

"The best sound a fireman hears is when he hears a smoke detector going off," Canton Fire Department Battalion Chief Ray Harple said. "At least we know the people have a chance."

Harple said that the couch had been smoldering, dangerously smoking in the home for some time, and only burst into flames when firefighters took it into the outside air.

The remarkable thing about the fire is that it did virtually no damage to the home, but because of the toxic smoke that is emitted from the burning foam in the couch, it could have been deadly.

"The smoke that these things put out, these older style couches, will kill you in a heartbeat," Harple said.

Norwood said that his training in Vietnam taught him to act instinctively, and that the smoke detector triggered his instinct.

Harple said that a person doesn't smell smoke when he/she is sleeping, so it won't wake you, rather it will just kill you. The detector, in essence, replaces your sense of smell.