Smoke Detector Saves Gulfport Couple

An early morning fire Wednesday destroyed a home in Gulfport.

Fire investigators say an electrical short likely started the blaze at 4924 Kendall Avenue in Bayou View.

Charles and Dorothy Knight lost their home, but a smoke detector saved their lives.

The quick moving fire destroyed their house. The Knights were both sleeping just before five thirty New Year's morning, when the shrill blast from the smoke detector jolted them out of bed.

The early warning gave them just enough time to escape.

"And it was almost not early enough. Because they woke up and their room was full of smoke. They had to crawl through the house and could not even get down the stairs because the fire had already advanced," said Fire Chief, Pat Sullivan.

With fire blocking the stairs, the quick thinking couple made their way onto the roof through the second story bedroom window.

Along with the warning from the smoke detector, next door neighbor Dennis Hill was also a life saver. He heard the couple's cries and hurried to help.

"Well, I was up reading and heard the sounds. So I'm real glad that I heard them," he said.

Once he saw them on the roof, Hill quickly brought his extension ladder which enabled the couple to safely escape their now rapidly burning house.

"I ran for that and got that and put it on the corner right there. And as soon as she was down, and he was halfway down, I ran for the phone," said Hill.

Both Charles and Dorothy Knight were too distraught to talk with us on camera. Their homes of 26 years is in ruins. But they're truly grateful to be alive this New Year, thanks to a caring neighbor and a working smoke detector.

"We preach and we preach and we preach smoke detectors. This is why. And this is a prime example of how the smoke detector saves lives," said Chief Sullivan.