‘Smoke Alarm Blitz:’ Firefighters offer help after animals killed in Oakland blaze

Fire ripped through 2-story home on Gulley Avenue

OAKLAND, Fla. – Orange County firefighters will go door to door in Oakland starting Thursday, offering to install free smoke alarms after a house fire earlier this week sent two people to the hospital and killed several animals.

Orange County Fire Rescue said it will spend three days in the Oakland community, visiting about 50 homes during a “Smoke Alarm Blitz,” an outreach aimed at saving lives.

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“We know that properly installed and maintained smoke alarms play a vital role in reducing fire, death and injuries,” Orange County Fire Rescue’s Fire Marshal David Kilbury said in a news release. “The safety of our residents is a top priority, which is why we provide this service throughout Orange County communities. Ultimately, the goal is to prevent another tragedy from occurring by ensuring families have working smoke alarms installed to alert them, in the event a fire occurs in their home.”

Suzanne Watkins, who lives two houses down from where the fire happened, said she was glad to see fire crews out in the area getting results for the community.

“They came in and checked all of my smoke detectors in the house and they replaced one for me,” Watkins said. “So now it’s more of I don’t have to worry about listening to the one in the living room, so if I’m out, sometimes I do go to sleep and I don’t wake up for anything, this will definitely get me up.”

The house fire that broke out Tuesday at a two-story home on West Gulley Avenue killed as many as 10 cats and a rabbit. Two residents were taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center due to smoke inhalation, officials said.

Oakland town officials said three police officers rushed in to help as flames engulfed the home.

According to a news release from the town of Oakland, Lt. Angela Campbell was first to arrive and bystanders informed her that residents were still inside the house.

Campbell saw a woman trapped in the home, and Officer Rene Castro went to the opposite side of the home with a fire extinguisher and broke a window and assisted a woman out of the house, officials said. Det. Shawn Dozier broke another window and, along with Campbell, pulled a man out of a window to safety, the news release stated.

“Our officers’ heroism and commitment to the public we serve were on full display as the three officers, working as a team, saved the lives of two Oakland residents,” Police Chief John Peek said. “I couldn’t be prouder.”

Authorities said the victims were fostering several cats, at least 9 of which died.

Officials said Campbell and Castro, along with a neighbor, rushed one cat to a veterinarian’s office, where it is expected to recover.

Fire officials said on Thursday they are trying to figure out if the victims had a working smoke detector at the time of the fire, the cause of which is still under investigation.

“Because of the amount of damage in this particular fire, it’s still under investigation, but I would venture to say that there were probably not working alarms smoke alarms due to the amount of damage and the delayed alarm that came with this house fire,” said Fire Marshal David Kilbury with Orange County Fire Rescue.

A GoFundMe has been set up for the family to help pay for any expenses. Click here to learn more.

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Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on ClickOrlando.com, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.