“I have a feeling if that girl hadn’t come to visit, hadn’t been awake and hadn’t told her grandmother something was wrong,” said Craff, “it would have been a bad deal.”
A family member said Grandma is doing fine.
Ottumwa has had fire after fire recently, and in many cases, it’s only luck or divine intervention that has allowed families to escape with their lives, the two fire officers said. It was clearest to them at this fire that luck can’t be the only thing keeping Ottumwans alive, they said. Every year, the fire department, along with organizations like the Ottumwa school district, works to raise enough money to purchase smoke detectors. Then, they give the smoke detectors to any homeowner who needs one. Free.
“We’ll even come to your house and install them,” said Kleinman.
And if it’s a disabled or elderly person who can’t climb up to change the battery in the smoke detector, they’ll come do that, too. What they don’t want are fatalities that could have been prevented so easily.
“A lot of people have smoke detectors, they just don’t maintain them,” Craff said. “These fires … it’s getting to be too many here.”
One more thing, said Kleinman. At one of these recent fires, a resident told him they were surprised to find the “smoke didn’t wake me up.”
That’s not how it works, he said. If you’re asleep, smoke detectors wake you up. Smoke just makes you sleep more deeply during the fire.