VIRGINIA BEACH - A smoke detector helped alert a Va. Beach family to fire on Christmas night.

Battalion Chief Tim Riley said fire started in a gas grill on the back deck of a home at Kings Grant and N. Lynnhaven roads Tuesday night. It started the decking on fire and the kitchen window broke, letting the smoke into the home, he told

The home owner said she thought a neighbor had gotten a fire pit for Christmas when she heard wood crackling. She looked out the window and saw flames. That's also when the smoke detector started going off.

The couple got their three young children out of the home. However, the mother says one of the kids had taken Benadryl and apparently got back inside to go to bed before firemen arrived. 'We did a head count and realized one of them wasn't here and went inside to get him,' she stated.

The family says they'd had their Christmas and had fallen asleep watching TV.

'The chime of the detectors got us out of the shock zone and realized we were where we needed to be, which was outside not inside the house,' she added.

Fire went up the back of the two-story home - near one of the children's bedrooms.

Riley says it's an example of how smoke detectors save lives. He reminds residents that they can get a free smoke detector. Residents can call their local fire station or call the 'Operation Smoke Detector Hotline' at 757-471-5826.

Most localities have similar programs. Just contact the fire department to find out what is offered.

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