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Fire sprinklers save Chapel Hill family's Christmas

Posted December 25, 2011

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— Chapel Hill firefighters credited a sprinkler system with saving a family and their Christmas celebration from a dryer fire Saturday evening.

A woman called 911 around 6:45 p.m. to report that her clothes dryer was on fire in her apartment at 1900 Baity Hill Drive in the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill's Family Student Housing complex, said Capt. Mary Blevins, with the Chapel Hill Fire Department.

When firefighters arrived, they discovered that a sprinkler over the dryer had turned on, keeping the fire contained to the dryer, she said. Firefighters extinguished it completely.

The family of five, including three children, and other people in the apartment building got out safely. The first floor of the building had smoke and water damage.

The family of five was displaced, so authorities helped them find temporary shelter, Blevins said. The South Orange Rescue fed them dinner, and firefighters brought them their clothes, personal items and Christmas gifts from the apartment.

"Santa was notified of the new address and heartily agreed to modify his delivery schedule accordingly, much to the delight of the children," Blevins said.

She urged people to never leave or go to sleep while a dryer is running, saying that dryers cause more than 15,000 fires in the country each year.

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  • jdh2 Dec 27, 2011

    All university housing at UNC system schools are either sprinkled or are in the process of having sprinklers installed. This was a mandate as a result of the fraterity house fire at UNCCH over 10 yrs ago.

  • cantstandya Dec 26, 2011

    Having a sprinkler system is one of the safest and worthwhile expenses any homeowner could have, a small amount for the security it brings to ones family.

  • mmcmstanley75 Dec 26, 2011

    This should serve as a reminder to university officials that sprinklers should be mandatory in all university housing. I don't know if sprinklers have now been installed in all dorms, but when my daughter lived in a UNC dorm several years ago, I was shocked to learn that her dorm did NOT have a sprinkler system.

  • Tax Man Dec 26, 2011

    Great luck here! Imagine they are very happy the sprinklers were installed. Merry Christmas!