Seminole woman escapes house fire caused by faulty refrigerator

Sue Campbell, 73, sits with her daughter, Lisa Viera, and is treated by rescue workers after tripping over a fan in her house.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

Sue Campbell, 73, sits with her daughter, Lisa Viera, and is treated by rescue workers after tripping over a fan in her house.

SEMINOLE — Sue Campbell's scary 5:30 a.m. wakeup call could have been worse.

As she slept early Wednesday, the extra refrigerator in her game room was catching fire, an electrical mishap that would demolish the room and render her home uninhabitable for months.

But Campbell, 73, made it out without a scratch.

Her hard-wired alarm system woke her up, giving her time to escape. She called 911 and then her daughter, Lisa Viera, who also lives in the Carriage Bay subdivision.

"When the phone rings at 6 a.m., it's never something good," Viera said.

Seminole Fire Rescue spokeswoman Alison Shanabrook credited the alarm system for Campbell's swift and safe exit. "Not only did we get the 911 call from her, but we were also getting alerted through her alarm-system monitoring company," she said.

Shanabrook recommended residents check their batteries twice a year. An easy way to remember is marking the checks with the time change, she said.

Campbell's next-door neighbor, Ann Waite, came over when she heard fire trucks. She said she saw flames shooting up from the roof.

"I thought, 'What is all that racket?' " Waite said. "I was horrified when I came out."

The fire left Campbell stranded in her pajamas, so Waite brought her a jacket, lawn chair and slippers.

Campbell said she and her late husband, Fred, built the home about 30 years ago and planned to sell it. But they decided to stay and develop the subdivision after falling in love with the area.

She has lived alone since Fred's death two years ago. After he died, she took out the pool table and made it more suitable for entertaining church friends.

The pale blue walls, new carpet, television, new couch and chairs in her entertainment room are all black now, charred by the blaze that blew out the room's window.

By 7 a.m., she still hadn't peeked inside.

"He said it's a mess in there, so I hate to even think about what it's going to look like," she said.

A firefighter told her she wouldn't be living in the house for a long time.

Still, Campbell and her friends managed to chuckle at small things, like mailing a slightly charred and already stamped birthday card from her purse just for kicks.

"What can you do?" she said.

Seminole woman escapes house fire caused by faulty refrigerator 03/10/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 10:02pm]

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