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Vienna family credits smoke detector with saving lives

February 4, 2018

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A smoke detector installed in a Vienna home through a program of the American Red Cross is being credited for saving the lives of a family in January.

Larissa and Steven Rockhold on Jan. 2 were at home at 905 27th St. where the three smoke alarms went off and they discovered smoke coming from the vents. A repairman was working on the furnace and had left to get a part, they said.

“It was a heck of a way to start the new year,” Steven Rockhold said.

Their two children were not at home, Larissa Rockhold said. Daughter Rosalynn Clegg, 3, was at a friend’s house because it was cold in the home and son Andrew Clegg, 5, was in school.

“If it wasn’t for the smoke detectors, we wouldn’t be here for our kids today,” Larissa Rockhold said.

The smoke detectors were installed through the American Red Cross’ Home Fire Campaign fire prevention program. The program also provides information to educate participants about fire safety and prevention, preparedness such as escape routes and rallying points and the smoke detectors.

The aim of the program is to save lives, said Sharon Kesselring, executive director of the American Red Cross of Northwestern West Virginia.

What happened with the Rockholds is “exactly what this program was supposed to do,” she said.

Since the program’s inception in October 2014, 322 lives across the country have been saved, Kesselring said. Twenty were in West Virginia and the Cleggs are the first in Wood County.

Charles Clegg, Larissa Rockhold’s father, who volunteers at the Red Cross and installs smoke detectors, installed the units in their home on Aug. 16, 2016.

Eligible residents can call the Red Cross for information or installation of detectors, Clegg said. They’ll go anywhere to help anyone, he said.

“We would love to have more volunteers,” Clegg said.

Damage to the home on 27th Street was from smoke, Steven Rockhold said. The fire department, which was near the home, arrived in plenty of time to prevent the fire from spreading away from the furnace, he said.

Steven Rockhold, upon discovering something was wrong, went downstairs to where the furnace was located and saw fire coming from it. He ran upstairs, calling 911 for the fire department and alerting his wife to get out of the house.

“Thank God they were just down the road,” Steven Rockhold said. “It would have been a lot worse than it was.”

The Rockholds, who were treated for smoke inhalation, have not returned to the house and have found other living accommodations.

“And the first thing they asked for?” Clegg said. “A smoke alarm to be installed.”

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Information from: News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, W.Va.), http://www.newsandsentinel.com

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