ELDERSBURG, Md. — Just last week, Michael Lally replaced the smoke alarms in his Eldersburg home that dated back to when the house was built more than 20 years ago, but he had no idea they would be put to the test at one o'clock in the morning on Wednesday.
"Smoke detectors went off and you wake up out of bed in a daze,” said Lally. “I'd just installed those so I thought maybe I'd screwed something up."
In a matter of seconds, Lally learned this was no false alarm.
"I ran down to the kitchen and I saw the back of the house was on fire,” said Lally. “I screamed at my wife and told her to get the dog and to get out. Call 911. I grabbed the fire extinguisher in the garage and tried to hit it in the back and knocked it down pretty good."
Dramatic pictures captured by the Sykesville-Freedom Fire Department when firefighters arrived on the scene show the inferno, which followed.
Lally, his wife and his dog all escaped from the burning home, and he credits the new smoke alarms with saving their lives, but he also learned a painful lesson.
"We do some grilling so there's that little Weber chiminea thing and you load it up with paper and you dump the coals in. I set it back under the little table there on a wood block, because it's hot,” said Lally. “but I think what happened---there was a little coal in there, because we had grilled about 7:30 in the evening, and I think that little coal started catching. There's a table back there. It caught the table on fire... caught the whole back of the house on fire."
Damage to the house and its contents is estimated at $500,000, and one of the firefighters suffered minor burns to his wrist, but he's expected to make a full recovery.