Salvation Army Fire

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

February 20, 2006

The Salvation Army is closed after a fire around 9:30 Monday morning on Cherry Avenue--there are no injuries and everyone escaped safely, but that may not have been the case without the help of one woman.

"Me being Store Manager, it's my responsibility to make sure that my crew is safe, so that's what I did. So I went back to get her and made sure she got out safely, which she did, so we all got out safe," said store manager Brenda Smith.

When an employee smelled the smoke he called 911 and said they all ran out, but it was Brenda Smith who ran back in and because of her, nobody was injured.

"Yes indeed, we're very fortunate," said Major Bruce Smith of the Salvation Army.

The fire started in a heating unit and spread through the ducts, which moved the smoke making visibility limited.

"You might guess that when you're in a zero visibility situation, it's very much like a maze, so you're walking your way around and trying to find your way in an area that you're not familiar with," said Chief Charles Werner of the Charlottesville Fire Department.

Firefighters used thermal imaging cameras to detect where the fire was. Charlottesville was one of the first departments in the country that had these cameras in every unit.

"Especially in a rescue of a person. We can actually cut our search time down in half and actually find somebody in a zero visibility situation," said Werner.

Luckily everyone evacuated safely, but that doesn't account for the damage.

There is minimal material damage and structure damage.

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