Family, friends hope to turn tragedy into prevention

PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT)- This time last year the unthinkable happened.

"My heart went straight to my stomach," said Cody Blackburn, who remembers people knocking on his door saying the house next door was on fire.

That fire tore through a home in Elkhorn City with an elderly couple trapped inside.

"But by the time we got from the basement to the top it was, I mean, the smoke was probably up to our necks, I mean there was no way of us getting from the basement to the top, top level of the house," said Blackbburn.

Inside the home was Blackburn's great-grandparents, Ross and Dixie Damron.

Both died in the flames.

"They were really wonderful people, you know, it was a big loss for our community when they passed away," said Elkhorn City Mayor, Mike Taylor.

Their deaths caused some to take action.

"And we went and started checking smoke alarms," said Taylor.

Nearly one year later those who knew the Damron's want to make sure no family goes through a similar tragedy.

"If you've got an elderly neighbor or something like, take a minute to check their smoke alarms and put a new battery in that smoke alarm because that could save a life, a dollar could save somebody's life," said Taylor.

The American Red Cross installs new smoke detectors free of cost, something many in the community have taken part in.

"I've had as high as 60 on a list," said Emerson Varney, a Disaster Program Specialist with the American Red Cross.

As many look to heat their homes this winter officials want you to remember a simple check could make all the difference.

Mayor Taylor said anyone wanting to donate smoke detectors can bring them to city hall.

The American Red Cross is hosting a Preparedness Volunteer event Monday January 16th at the Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Hazard.

Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up to serve in many roles, including a smoke detector installer.

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