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Smoke detectors save Langley couple

Virginia and Joseph Davis were sound asleep early Thursday morning when the beeping started all over their Delphi Road house.

A volunteer medic with Fire District 3, Virginia Davis awoke and immediately started looking for her pager, which beeps loudly whenever dispatchers at Island County's 911 call center need to send help to a medical emergency.

But this time, the noise she and her husband were hearing had nothing to do with someone else's emergency. The smoke alarms in their home were going off, and Davis knew that meant she and her husband needed to save themselves, not somebody else.

"It took a second or two to figure out what that was," she said of the alarm.

Downstairs and across the house, a string of Christmas lights in the living room had shorted out and set an antique couch aflame. Smoke had filled much of the house and was on its way to the Davis' bedroom. They smelled it for the first time as they ducked out of the room into the hallway and down the stairs.

Instead of leaving the house immediately, Virginia Davis dashed into the living room, where her two Chinese pug dogs were sleeping in separate baby cribs. One of the cribs was next to the flaming couch, which had already set part of the wall behind it on fire. Davis got the dogs out and grabbed a portable phone as her husband knocked the flames back with a fire extinguisher.

A few minutes later, after the Davis' called 911, the fire was out, thanks to a quick response from firefighter Brian Vick. A Lakeside Terrace resident, Davis is practically a neighbor. He doused the flames with a garden hose several minutes before the first fire truck arrived at about 12:45 a.m.

Though the first light after dawn Thursday showed the interior walls of the house as gray and black with smoke damage, everyone who had been at the house earlier that morning agreed that the smoke alarms in the Davis house had done their job. Virnia Davis said she might not have awakened until it was too late had it not been for the warning.

Assistant Chief Busch said the small investment the couple made in the alarms saved their lives.

"Smoke detectors are cheap compared to the cost of a life," he said.

Busch said the cause of the fire appeared to be a short in the Christmas lights, which were hanging behind the couch. The Davis house suffered a few thousand dollars in smoke and flame damage in the fire, but was habitable Thursday morning.

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