MOULTRIE -- A house fire killed six members of a family in Northwest Moultrie June 6, and as Fire Prevention Month opens, the Moultrie Fire Department is trying to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Firefighters began going door-to-door Monday to distribute fire safety information and check smoke detectors, Fire Marshal Lavon Cooper said Wednesday.

"What we're doing is trying to raise the awareness of the people of Moultrie," Cooper said.

Cooper said firefighters are trying to canvass the whole city, visiting homes from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

While they're there, the firefighters will -- at the homeowner's request -- post house numbers so emergency units can find a house and install battery-powered smoke alarms.

The homeowner has to buy the alarms, Cooper said, because the fire department doesn't have the budget to provide them free. However, during National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 7-13, Wal-Mart, Baell Mercantile, Billy Jack's Hardware and Stone's Home Improvement Center are all selling smoke detectors at reduced prices, he said.

Cooper thanked the stores for their help.

Firefighters will install the detectors at no cost, he said, but only the battery-powered models.

"We're not electricians," he said.

In conjunction with Fire Prevention Week, the fire department will set up a presentation for the public with a fire truck, the Fire Safety House and fire safety education videos.

The presentation will visit Stringfellow Elementary on Tuesday, Oct. 9; Cox Elementary on Wednesday, Oct. 10; and R.B. Wright Elementary on Thursday, Oct. 11.

The same presentation will be available Tuesday at the Ryce Community Center, 305 Seventh St. N.W.; Wednesday at Fire Station 3 on Quitman Highway; and Thursday at Wal-Mart on East Bypass. All three are from 6 to 8 p.m.

Cooper said city utility bills will also include a mail-out about smoke detectors and fire safety.

This year's push is stronger than most, Cooper said, because of the June 6 deaths of Brenda Nelson, 41; Samuel Nelson, 13; Bernard Nelson, 17; Fred Parrish, 5; Freddie Parrish, 4; and Clinton Williams Sr., 66. A candle was blamed for starting the fire that killed them. Greg Nelson, 18, suffered a severe cut jumping through a window to get out; he was the fire's only survivor.

-- By Kevin C. Hall



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