Red Cross Volunteers Pass Out Smoke Alarms Following Fatal Fire

MAHONING TOWNSHIP -- Red Cross volunteers installed free smoke alarms in homes in Carbon County following a fatal fire that killed a 9-year-old girl.

"We target an area given to us by local fire departments," Red Cross volunteer Rita Walsh said. "They'll give us the areas that they think are most vulnerable."

Volunteers walked through neighborhoods near a home on Beaver Run Drive in Mahoning Township.

Vahnne Gower, 9, was killed in a fire at the home over the weekend.

State police said Vahnne's family had recently been remodeling the home, and there were no smoke detectors inside. The volunteers went door to door, not only passing out smoke detectors, but also giving out useful information.

"We want to implore folks the importance of getting that home fire escape plan," Red Cross spokesman Dave Skutnik said. "Talking about it with your family and practicing it with your family to make sure that if a fire happens in your home, you know how to get out."

They stopped by Wanda Conrad's home not far from where the fatal fire happened. She already had a smoke detector, so volunteers gave her new batteries.

"I think it is a wonderful thing that they're doing to help the community," Conrad said.

Red Cross volunteers hope passing out the detectors will bring awareness to the community to help prevent more tragic fires like this one from happening.

"Any time there is a fire when someone loses their life is tragic, but it really tugs at the heart strings when it is a child," Skutnik said.

State police tell Newswatch 16 they believe the fire started in the basement. They said they are unsure if a cause will ever be determined because there is so much damage to the home.

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