Residential sprinkler saves Habitat Humanity home from dangerous fire

Residential sprinkler saves Habitat Humanity home from dangerous fire

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The call came into the Wilmington Fire Department at 7 p.m. about a fire at a home built by Habitat for Humanity.

By the time crews responded to the incident, the fire had been put out. A residential sprinkler installed at Carol Tyson's home took care of the dangerous flames.

"I just knew that this whole kitchen was just going to blow up, that's how bad the fire was it was just up in the air all the way to the ceiling," said Tyson. "Before we can do anything the sprinklers came on."

Tyson said she was cooking fish and took a quick trip to the bathroom. Minutes later she said her husband started yelling her name. That's when she saw the flames.

It started out as a grease fire. According to Wilmington Fire Department PIO David Hines, you do not want to put water on a grease fire, that will typically make it spread. But in this case, the fire was out of control and spread to other materials. Hines said the constant flow from the sprinkler head extinguished the fire. As a rule of thumb: Do NOT add water to a grease fire in a pot or pan.

The water drenched the kitchen, putting out the flames and saving a home that means the world to Tyson. Her family moved into the home in 2011 as part of the Habitat for Humanity program.

"I was here when this house was built, I helped build this house," said Tyson. "It's just a warm feeling because I know it's mine." If not for the sprinkler, Tyson said she would have lost that feeling.

The damage from the flames resulted in an estimated $350 worth of repairs, mostly from water damage. Assistant Fire Chief Frank Blackley said it's a small price to pay compared to the money you could lose without a residential sprinkler.

"Where you see may see some damage would be because of the water but if you have the fire you are going to have problems through the entire home," added Blackley.

Blackley said his department typically sees much more severe damage/injuries in these situations if residential sprinklers aren't installed. Blackley added the most cost-effective time to put sprinklers in are during initial construction of the house. It can get more expensive if you have to make repairs after the house is built.

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