North Carolina Firefighters Canvass Neighborhood to Check Smoke Alarms

Days after a minister died in a house fire, Raleigh firefighters went door to door Thursday to make sure the man's neighbors had working smoke alarms.

Robert Edward Henry, 69, the pastor of Gethsemane True Vine Holiness Church, was killed early Sunday when fire spread through his home at 544 Rose Lane, authorities said. Henry's wife, 74-year-old Helen Henry, was badly burned in the blaze.

Investigators haven't determined the cause of the blaze, but they said they believe the smoke detectors in the Henry household weren't working.

"You can always rebuild a house, but you cannot bring a person back. Our message is early warning," Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath said, explaining the neighborhood canvass by his firefighters.

As a part of the effort, the Raleigh Fire Department is replacing any faulty detectors and is providing safety information, such as helping residents map out evacuation plans.

"We're teaching about fire safety," McGrath said.

Statistics show half of all U.S. homes don't have smoke detectors, he said. Among those homes with detectors, 60 percent of the devices aren't working, he said.

Sylvia Shafe is one of those homeowners with a detector that doesn't work. The Raleigh resident said she appreciated the firefighters' effort.

"It helps us understand the dangers," Shafe said.

Firefighters installed 21 smoke detectors and replaced the batteries in nine others during the canvass, McGrath said.

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Reporter: Dan Bowens

Photographer: Richard Adkins

Web Editor: Matthew Burns

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