A Crothersville man credits a smoke detector for allowing his escape Tuesday from a house destroyed by fire.
“I was asleep, and the fire alarm was vibrating,” Zach Ritchie said.
“I started coughing real bad, and I had to get down on the floor. I shut off the heater and then went through and started yelling for Brandon.”
He is referring to Brandon Brewer, the father of Ritchie’s girlfriend. Ritchie has been staying with Brewer and his nephew, Keith Brewer. Neither Brewer was at the home at 613 E. Bard St. at 8:54 a.m. when the fire was reported to county dispatchers.
After being rousted from his bed by the alarm and smoke, Ritchie said he left the house through the kitchen door, but not before he did one other thing — made an attempt to put out the fire.
“I threw a cup of water on it,” Ritchie said.
That wasn’t near enough water, Brandon Brewer said.
Ritchie said he continued his search for Brandon Brewer by going around to the front of the one-level wood-frame home and opening that door, but no one was in the front part of the house.
“I thought he was at home,” Ritchie said.
He then ran across the street and called 911.
The Brewers are renting the home from Brandon Brewer’s bosses, Marlin D. Adams and Andrew Nehrt.
The Brewers lost everything in the fire and were still trying to figure out where they might stay Tuesday night and in the long term.
“These are the only clothes I have,” Brandon Brewer said of the clothes he was wearing as he stood in the driveway of the home.
Keith Brewer moved into the home about 4½ months ago and was joined by his uncle a couple of months ago.
The cause of the fire was not available at press time. Crothersville Police Chief Richard Hanlin said the home had baseboard heating, and a space heater was being used.
Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire and was assisted by firefighters from Jennings, Jackson-Washington and Grassy Fork township volunteer fire departments.
To help the Brewers, call 812-793-5750.