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Family escapes safely from fire caused by candle

DULUTH -- A smoke alarm saved a sleeping family from an apartment fire early Saturday, officials said.

Fire investigators believe an unattended candle started the blaze at about 4:41 a.m. in the complex on Amber Trail in Duluth, a press release said.

A family of four was awakened by the smoke alarm and found a sofa on fire in the living room, the release said. Firefighters found smoke and flames showing from the unit and quickly deployed two attack lines to extinguish the blaze.

While no other apartment units were damaged, the fire caused extensive damage to the living room and sent moderate smoke and heat throughout the rest of the unit, the release said. The Red Cross is assisting the family with clothing needs, while the complex's management is relocating the two adults and two teenage children to a vacant unit within the complex.

"The smoke alarm is credited with saving multiple lives this morning," Gwinnett Fire Capt. Thomas Rutledge said. "We could be telling a very different and tragic story had it not been for the presence of a working smoke alarm inside the apartment unit."

He also stressed the importance of extinguishing candles when going to bed or leaving a home, as unattended candles are a leading cause of residential fires.

For more information on fire safety, call the Gwinnett Fire Community Risk Reduction Division at 678-518-4845 or email fireprograms@gwinnettcounty.com.