TAMPA — Louise Brown watched her neighbor's home burn across the street this week. She heard the commotion and saw the flames. But it wasn't until firefighters knocked on her door Friday that she decided it was time for smoke alarms.
For a couple of hours Friday, a group of Tampa firefighters scoured the Robles Park neighborhood, offering to check and install smoke alarms for free.
Most people were open to the help, especially after the electrical fire Monday that singed a nearby home that had no smoke alarms.
No one was injured in that fire, thanks to a neighbor who woke everyone up. But it worried residents of the neighborhood, which is filled with older wooden homes much like the one that went up in flames.
"It's a tragedy that they had to lose the house like that," Brown, 73, said as a firefighter tested one of her new alarms. "I think it's something that every house should have. I really do."
The firefighters distributed about 30 donated smoke alarms and many more fresh batteries.
Capt. Bill Wade, Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman, said the department tries to do neighborhood checkups a couple of times each year. They often choose a location where there's been a recent risky fire.
They also talked to them about quick-release latches for burglar bars. The residents in Monday's fire had to scramble to find keys to their front door's iron gate before they could escape. Everyone made it out safely.
Clint Bowers, the neighbor who woke the residents up, said his home already had smoke alarms. But he was happy to accept three more, plus extra batteries.
"I was like, 'Yeah. That's what I'm talking about,' " Bowers said.