Family reunited with Red Cross volunteers who installed smoke alarm that saved their lives

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A Rockford family says they owe their lives to the Red Cross volunteers who installed fire detectors in their home.

At 2:45 a.m. on Tuesday, September 3rd, Doreen McCullough woke up to her worst nightmare.

A vacant trailer next door to her home caught fire, and spread quickly to her home of 11 years.

“I looked out the window and all I see is this big orange ball of fire, and I froze,” she recalled. “It caught the whole south side of our house on fire, and the smoke alarm the Red Cross put upstairs is the one that saved us.”

Joy Squier, with the Chicago & Northern Illinois Red Cross, said, “The ‘Sound the Alarm’ campaign saved 640 lives – and we will add to that Doreen and her family, the McCullough family – since it started, three years ago.”

Just a few months prior, two Red Cross volunteers had installed the smoke detector in her home, which Doreen credits for saving the lives of her father, her sister, and her daughter, who all made it out of the house alive.

“This is the first time I’ve been in a fire. I was never in one growing up, but I’ve always been scared of one and let me tell you, it’s an awful feeling,” she said.

Friday morning, Doreen was reunited with those volunteers.

Installing a smoke detector only takes about five minutes, the Red Cross says. After putting in around 300 free smoke detectors as part of their “Sound the Alarm” campaign this summer, it only took one to save the Rockford family.

“That five minutes is going to save them and give them a whole lot of life after that, which is pretty much the big difference,” said one of the volunteers.

“I just can’t emphasize it enough, how important it is to have smoke alarms in your house,” Doreen said. “If that window wouldn’t have been cracked and that smoke alarm wouldn’t have been upstairs, I wouldn’t be standing here right now.”

Doreen says her daughter heard the alarm first, allowing them to get out of the house on time.

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