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Piqua couple meets security dispatcher that helped save their lives in house fire

PIQUA — A Piqua couple credits their security system for saving their lives when their house caught fire in the middle of the night earlier this year.

Just two days before their home on Orchard Drive caught on fire Karen and Mike Culver said they had considered canceling the service that ultimately saved their lives.

“We had not been using the security part of the ADT system,” Karen said. “We weren’t even thinking about the fact that also the smoke alarms were all tied in and monitored. So we were thinking of getting rid of it. Decided not to cancel. That decision saved our lives. It definitely saved the house, there’s no question about that.”

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The fire started around 2:00 A.M. in the Culvers’ basement. Mike said he was the told that the cause of the fire was one of their cats knocking over a pile of clothes on to a wax warmer that was on. When the alarms first went off they got a phone call.

“I heard Karen rustling for her phone and I woke up and sat up in bed and I asked her who it was,” Mike said. “She goes there was nobody there she goes, ‘that just aggravates me so bad’.”

The couple had theories about who it could have been. After the two woke up they heard a faint sound. Mike first looked outside and then went to the bedroom door.

“When I opened the door,” Mike said. “The alarms were wailing. I went into the hallway, flipped on the light and I could not hardly see. The upstairs was filling up with smoke.”

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He tried to find the fire, in what he and Karen admit now was a foolish endeavor, in hopes of putting it out. While he stayed inside he made sure Karen got out of the house.

“I said just go on call the fire department,” Mike said.

He ultimately had to go to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation because after realizing the fire was in the basement and made it down four steps before realizing the error of his ways and decided it was time to leave the house. More than 800 miles away in Jacksonville, Florida Tenoria Ellis called 911 after she was unable to reach the Culvers with that early morning phone call.

Thursday the Culvers met Tenoria for the first time.

“When I saw her today it was hard to keep it together,” Karen said. “Because she’s the one. Without her, we wouldn’t be standing here talking.”

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The Culvers had gifts for Tenoria as well as the fire department for their work. ADT handed out awards, as well as offered a job to the contractor that had upgraded the Culvers’ system and helped convince them to not cancel their service. ADT also gave the Piqua Fire Department $5,000 for the role they played in making sure the situation didn’t end worse.

The Culvers’ house is currently condemned and they’re living in a hotel in Troy. Karen said they hopes to be back in their home within the next few months.

James Rider

James Rider

I was born in Virginia and have moved several times in my life as a member of an Air Force family. I've lived in Virginia, California, Germany, England, and Ohio. I graduated from Centerville High School and then went on to attend Ball State University where I graduated with a bachelor's degree.

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