HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Huntsville City Fire Marshal Daniel Wilkerson says the cause of the fire at Sunlake at Edgewater apartment complex is ruled indeterminable.
Huntsville Fire and Rescue responded to an apartment fire in the 600 block of Lakefront Drive Sunday morning.
Huntsville Fire spokesman Capt. Frank McKenzie said eight apartments were destroyed, with several others heavily damaged by smoke. Huntsville Fire and Rescue said 16 units are unlivable.
Wilkerson says there are four classifications of fires: natural, accidental, incendiary, and undetermined.
"With the Sunlake fire, we were able to determine what apartment the fire started in, but because of the severity of the damage, we were unable to pinpoint exactly where it started," said Wilkerson.
He says residents smelled the smoke from the fire without hearing the smoke alarms, and anytime a fire grows unidentified, it allows the fire to get bigger before firefighters are notified.
"A lot of times, the outcome of the fire can be dependent on early notification of the fire actually starting," says Wilkerson. It can be the difference between a small fire or a destructive one.
"I don't think we have any reports of anybody hearing a smoke detector at all," says Wilkerson. He says smoke alarms are your main line of defense for your safety while you're in your home, especially when you're sleeping. Fortunately for the Sunlake apartment fire, it occurred in the morning and people were awake and able to call for help. A few hours earlier, and it could've been worse.
"If the smoke detector does not wake you up, you could be rendered unconscious by the carbon monoxide and never wake up," says Wilkerson. "It's very important that you have a working smoke detector."
Checking your smoke detector regularly can be the determining factor between life and death.
"The most important thing is to check your smoke detector every 30 days," says Wilkerson. "Make sure that if it does have a replaceable battery, that you're replacing your battery every six months. And if your detector is older than 10 years, you need to replace it."