MIAMISBURG, Ohio (WDTN) – A family here credits a Red Cross campaign for saving at least 5 lives during an overnight house fire on September 6th, 2017.
Monday, September 25th, Aaron Collins and Lindsay Van spoke to 2 News at the Dayton Red Cross chapter about their harrowing escape.
Collins, Van and the couple’s two sons, age 4 and 7, moved into a duplex on Buckeye Street in Miamisburg after saving up money for close to four years. They lived in the rental for only two months before it caught fire.
“Just to see everything that we worked hard for go up in smoke, literally, it’s insane,” said Collins.
Investigators are still looking for a suspected arsonist they say set fire to the unit connected to Collins and Van’s home. The couple said by the time they realized the duplex was on fire and escaped, the entire house was engulfed in flames.
“We had to run through the smoke and down the stairs, with both boys in my arms, and out of the front door,” said Collins. “By the time we got out… their whole downstairs was just gone.”
Collins and Van said the only reason they woke up in time to escape the early morning fire was because of the new smoke detectors installed by Red Cross volunteers on both sides of the duplex one week earlier. A teenager sleeping next door also heard the alarms and jumped to ground from his second story window.
“They worked, obviously,” Collins said. “That’s what woke us up and that’s what saved our lives.”
In the nine county region, the Red Cross says its alarms have saved families in 3 separate incidents and nationwide since the campaign started, it’s saved at least 300 people.
Red Cross disaster manager Randy Earl said, “If it’s one (life), it’s well worth the effort.”
For the next three weekends, Red Cross volunteers will be canvassing neighborhoods in Phillipsburg and Dayton.
Collins and Van urge everyone to take advantage of what they know can be a life-saving change.
“Just thinking about how bad this could have ended up,” said Van, “that we walked out with no injuries, we were able to go to my mom’s and go to bed that night, that’s amazing.”
You can learn more about the Red Cross Home Fire Prevention campaign here.
To request free smoke detector installation from the Red Cross, you can fill out this online form or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.