Smoke detector likely saved row of 6 York City homes, fire chief says


Had a York City family's smoke detector not sounded on Thursday afternoon, flames could have spread to six row homes through a common attic, York City Fire Chief David Michaels said.

Because of the early warning, firefighters not only contained the blaze to one home, they stopped it before it spread beyond the front portion of the home's third floor, he said.

Crews were called to 334 Smyser St. just after 2 p.m. and quickly extinguished flames, according to Michaels.

No one was hurt, but two adults and three children have been displaced and are being assisted by the York-Adams chapter of the American Red Cross, he said.

Although initial reports indicated someone was trapped in the home, that wasn't the case, he said.

One of the adult residents of the home had been outside gardening and when she came back in she heard her smoke detector sounding, according to Michaels.

The woman backed out and called 911, he said.

Early warning: The early warning "without a doubt" made a big difference in the outcome, the chief said.

Because six row homes are attached in the block — all sharing a common attic — firefighters also focused on the homes on either side of 334 to make sure flames weren't spreading, he said. They cut a hole in the roof of 334 to be sure, Michaels said.

Crews also used a ladder truck to douse flames, he said.

As they did their work, two sisters who live next door watched from their front porch. One later hugged Assistant Fire Chief Ed Hamilton.

Firefighters had the blaze under control so quickly that they didn't even ask the sisters to move off their porch.

"It didn't take them long," Michaels said.

Free detectors: The York City Department of Fire/Rescue provides working smoke detectors free to anyone who needs them, according to the chief.

The detectors each come with a 10-year affixed battery, and firefighters even go to residents' homes to properly install the detectors, he said.

Michaels said he can't stress enough how critical smoke detectors are in every home.

To request one, call the department at (717) 854-3921.

To help victims of local fires, make donations at or send contributions to the York-Adams chapter, 724 S. George St., York 17401.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at