ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — July 13, 2022, is a night Alder Springs Volunteer Fire Department Chief James Edwards will never forget, as he responded to a house fire that led to the death of a 7-year-old girl.

Edwards tells News 19 that he started “Project Charlie,” named after Charlie Carroll. The department was called out to a house fire at the intersection of Campbell Road and Todd Ridge Road around 11 p.m.

Charlie’s twin sister, Willa, had been rescued by a teenager, Edwards said, and firefighters were able to find her grandfather Leon in a bedroom before being pulled out to safety.

They couldn’t find Charlie, however until one of the firefighters found the girl in a bathroom by herself. Despite first responders giving everything they had, Edwards recalled, it was too late.

According to the Sand Mountain Reporter, Leon had severe burns and another serious injury from the fire. He spent two months recovering at a Birmingham hospital which was followed by more rehab in Albertville. Willa had also been sent to the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

Edwards said he wants every department to have access to thermal imaging cameras, something he feels would make a major difference when trying to find someone who needs to be rescued from a burning building.

But the Fire Chief adds that the equipment would be critical when searching for a missing person or wanted suspect in wooded areas at night.

Thermal imaging cameras aren’t cheap, though, but that’s not stopping Edwards. With Charlie on his mind, he created the project to raise funds to purchase the devices, which he said range from $600 for a simple version, to upwards of $10,000 for fancier ones.

Across the 17 volunteer fire departments and four career departments in Marshall County, the chief aims to put at least one thermal camera in every department.

Project Charlie is still in its early stages, but Edwards isn’t waiting around. Before any fundraising events have been scheduled, he says he’s already written multiple letters to organizations and officials asking for help.

The Alder Springs community and the surrounding areas have already shown support for Edwards’ goal, as the chief said they have “really pulled together” and rallied for the cause.

When asked how locals can support their own fire departments, whether volunteer or career, Edward’s response was simple: call them. “Ask what their needs are, because every department is going to have different needs, whether it be funds, volunteers, or hoses.”

If you would like to donate to help purchase thermal imaging cameras, Chief Edwards said you can mail it to the station, located at 177 Stagecoach Rd., Albertville, 35951.

You can also reach out to them on their Facebook page here, call (256) 302-4161, or email the department here. Chief Edwards said he would be more than happy to make arrangements to meet anyone who wants to donate.