Updated 05/03/2012 05:46 PM
Fatal fire brings about safety campaign
The death of a woman and child in an Auburn fire has sparked a new effort to raise awareness of smoke detectors. YNN's Bill Carey says the family of one victim says people need to look closely at what type of smoke detector they have.
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AUBURN, N.Y. -- There are still scars visible on a home along Greenview Circle in Auburn. But those physical scars are minimal compared to the emotional scars the fire left for Valerie Rivett and her family. The fire that hit this home nearly two months ago took the life of Valerie's two-year-old niece, Averyana Dale.
“She was a very vibrant, loving, happiest child. She lit up a room as soon as she walked in there. She'd put a smile on your face no matter what kind of day you were having,” Rivett said.
Averyana and her godmother, Rachel Harris-Curione, 38, died of smoke inhalation late on the night of March 10th. The fire was ruled accidental, but there is still no word on the cause.
“It is an ongoing investigation, not only with the Auburn Police Department, but with the Auburn Fire Department. Insurance companies are involved doing their own investigation. An independent investigation. So, it is ongoing. There is no final conclusion on the cause of the fire,” said Auburn Police Department Lieutenant Shawn Butler.
While the official investigation goes on, the family of Averyana has launched a campaign that they're hoping will save lives in the future.
Rivett says she was troubled by the fact that there had been a smoke detector in the house. The fire, she says, was never severe enough to have blocked an escape.
“By going inside and looking around, I just could not believe that they perished. There wasn't much structural damage,” Rivett said.
Rivett began to research the issue and found the home had had an ionic smoke detector, which experts say works best in warning of a fire with steady flames. Another type of smoke detector, photo electric, is better at spotting smoldering fires, like the type that killed Averyana and Rachel.
The family is launching an effort to reach out to local and state officials, hoping to devise some system that would require, or at least encourage, the use of both types of detectors.
Rivett says success on the legislative front would be welcome news. But no legislative action will take away the pain of March 10th.
Rivett said, “There's nothing in this world that will ever replace the loss of Averyana or Rachel.”
A benefit is planned for the family of Averyana Dale. It will be held June 2nd from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Ukrainian National Club in Auburn. Donations are $10 for adults and $5 for children five to 10 years old. Children under five are free.