CAMERON, N.C. — A Harnett County family can attest that smoke detectors save lives. Fire gutted their home Sunday morning, but the family got out safe thanks to smoke detectors.
When Mike Atkinson looked at the charred remains of his mobile home Sunday, he hardly could believe his entire family got out.
"We're lucky," Atkinson said. "I think we're just lucky to be alive."
Fire broke out in his mobile home in Cameron around 5 a.m. Sunday.
The Harnett County Fire Marshal still is investigating what caused the fire.
"Coming up the road, we could see the glow in the sky coming from this fire, so we knew we had a fully involved structure fire," said Alan Jarvis, chief of the Spout Springs Fire Department.
Said Atkinson: "Liiterally, once we were outside, you could see the flames going through the house. You could see them moving."
Atkinson, his wife, two children, granddaughter and mother-in-law all got out of the house. They even managed to save the family pets.
Atkinson credited the smoke detectors.
"The smoke detectors woke us up," he said. "Without the smoke detectors, I don't think we would have got out of there. I really don't. That fire went so fast."
Hours after fire crews put the fire out, they came back to the house because, they said, on a day like Sunday -- when it was dry and windy -- they have to be extra careful.
"All it takes is a little spark, and they could start another fire that way," Jarvis said.
Fire crews doused an area of the roof that still was smoking and kept an eye on the house throughout the day. The Red Cross is helping Atkinson and his family; the clothes on the clothes line are all they have left.
"And I need a pair of eyeglasses," Atkinson said. "And my mother-in-law, she needs eye glasses, as well."
Those are just minor inconveniences, he said, considering the whole family is safe and sound.