A couple from Ste. Anne believes the only reason they are still alive is that their smoke detector woke them up Tuesday morning mere, moments before their house was consumed by fire.

Sonja Loran says the memory is imprinted on her mind in great detail.

“We woke up at 1:40 AM to the sound of alarms. We went down the hallway to find out the source of what was happening and realized we could smell smoke and very quickly we started to see smoke. By the time we ran to the bedroom to grab clothes and get out the door, our entire house was filled with smoke to the point where we were not able to see.”

Smoke damaged walls looking into a bedroomThe Larens woke up to the sound of smoke alarms early Tuesday morning.

Once she fully comprehended the danger of the situation, Loran bolted outside. She then turned around to find that her husband, Don, was still in the building.

“Don was a little bit behind me and got partially down the hallway and couldn’t find his way,” states Loran, tearing up at the thought. “I had to yell at him from the door so he could follow my voice to get out of the home.”

Safely outside, the couple called the Ste. Anne Fire Department and watched in a daze as firefighters showed up to combat the rising plumes of smoke. The blaze, which was largely confined to the basement, was extinguished in a matter of hours.

In the hours after the fire, insurance adjusters arrived and deemed the house salvageable, thanks to the quick actions of the fire department. To the Lorans though, that is a fairly hollow victory. While the home may be structurally stable and, indeed, appears quite unscathed from the outside, the building wreaks of smoke and every surface is covered in a coating of thick, sticky ash.

“It feels terrible,” says Don standing in the middle of what was his kitchen. “We are just lucky we are where we are now because the smoke detectors woke us up and saved our lives.”

His wife agrees. “We just keep reminding each other that we are alive and that is the most important things, these are possessions, but you can’t replace a life.”

Smoke damaged hallwayLaren says the smoke was so dense that she had to use her voice to lead her husband out of this hallway.

Since the fire event, family and friends have rallied around the couple, providing them with food, clothing, and emotional support. Loran thanks those who have extended their assistance, and also hopes her story can serve as a warning.

“I am so grateful that we have been somewhat diligent about making sure our detectors work and if they chirp we change the batteries, I know sometimes it is an extra expense but, trust me, this is not a bad trade-off.”

She encourages her fellow homeowners to check their smoke detectors and replace their batteries regularly as doing so could quite literally be the difference between life and death.