Smoke alarms help 81-year-old man escape Va. fire

When firefighters arrived, they helped him into an ambulance to keep him warm


By Amanda Codispoti
The Roanoke Times

ROANOKE, Va. — An 81-year-old Roanoke man safely escaped his burning home Monday morning after he heard his smoke detectors.

Elbert Lee was on the first floor of his two-story house in the 2000 block of Hanover Avenue Northwest when he heard the smoke detectors and saw a fire in an upstairs bedroom, Fire Chief David Hoback said.

Lee made it out of his house safely, Hoback said.

The fire was reported about 10:19 a.m. When firefighters arrived, they helped Lee into an ambulance to keep him warm while crews climbed onto the porch roof to put out the blaze.

The fire was contained to the bedroom and attic, Hoback said.

The rest of the house was damaged by smoke and water. Damage is estimated at $30,000, he said.

The fire started in the flue of a wood-burning oven, Hoback said. The flue had deteriorated and embers from the oven's fire got into the walls, he said.

Lee has lived in the house for nearly 50 years, said his stepson, Tim Arrington.

Lee and Arrington's brother, who also lived at the house but was not home when the fire started, will stay with family. "Everything he ever had was in that house," Arrington said.

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