MIAMI (CBS4) – An 85-year-old disabled Miami woman said the alarm from a smoke detector and a Good Samaritan both saved her life after a fire broke out early Monday morning inside her home.

“I had just got home from the hospital a few hours before that fire and I was sleeping,” said Carletha Howell. “I took some percosets, three of them. I was knocked out already.”

Howell told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that the alarm from her smoke detector woke her up at her home, at 1027 N.W. 66th Street, went off around 3 a.m.

“I heard it and I jumped up and the house was full of smoke,” she said. “I can hardly walk. I am on crutches. I couldn’t find my cell phone. I couldn’t find my phone. I jumped up. This guy lives next door and I called him. I screamed his name and told him to tell someone to call 411. I mean 911.”

Howell said that neighbor rescued her and she was also helped outside her home by another Good Samaritan, Ella Walker.

“Then my chest was real full from all the smoke and I almost went into an attack,” said Walker.

She said she felt compelled to help Howell.

“Well, we have to help one another,” she said. “We are neighbors. We have to help one another at all times.”

“I was very glad she was there to help me. I couldn’t find my crutches. I am very grateful,” Howell said.

Lt. Ignatius Carroll Jr. of the Miami Fire Department said this incident was a reminder of how everyone should “keep their phone close by and keep it handy” because of emergencies.

“We were just lucky this was not a fast-moving fire and the other gentleman who was living there was able to get out,” he said.

Carroll was referring to a visually-impaired, elderly man who escaped before the fire scorched and gutted the home. Howell said that man was a friend who shared the home with her.

“These people are very lucky because a smoke detector saved their lives,” said Carroll. “Had the alarm not gone off, she might not have made it out of the home. This provides another reminder to check those smoke detectors for your own safety and the safety of your loved ones as well.”

“If I didn’t have that smoke detector, well, I had taken three to four percosets and they knock you out. I might not have been able to get out,” said Howell.

It’s not known how the fire started inside Howell’s home. The fire department is looking into whether an electrical problem prompted the blaze to erupt.

A CBS4 crew that went inside Howell’s home discovered that it was not habitable. The walls were blackened by the
blaze and there is extensive damage.

The American Red Cross is paying for shelter for Howell for three days at a Miami motel. After that, Howell said she was not sure where she would live.

She told D’Oench she had no relatives nearby who could help her.


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