MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Just over one year after a 7-year-old girl died in an Albertville house fire, one volunteer fire chief’s mission sparked by her death has put life-saving equipment in the hands of firefighters.

Now, Alder Springs Volunteer Fire Department Chief James Edwards said his mission, Project Charlie, has been accomplished.

On July 13, 2022, Edwards said 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 recalled, and firefighters were able to find her grandfather Leon in a bedroom before pulling him out to safety.

They couldn’t find Charlie, however until one of the firefighters found her in a bathroom by herself. Despite first responders giving everything they had, Edwards said, 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 wanted every department in Marshall County 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.

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 didn’t stop 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, they will each be able to better protect their neighbors after Edwards said they had raised enough funds in a matter of a few short months.

There will be a presentation event at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 5 to hand out the thermal cameras to each department. Edwards said this will be held at Kappler, Inc., located on Grimes Drive in Guntersville.