One simple lifesaving step in a fire

One simple lifesaving step in a fire

BEL AIR, Md. (WBFF) - If you're ever in a fire, there's one simple step everyone can do that can be lifesaving: close your door.

Fire departments across the country are now spreading the message to "Close Before You Doze".

Pictures from a house fire in Bel Air just after Christmas show intense flames erupting after an overloaded power strip ignited bedding.

Luckily no one was inside at the time of the fire. Maryland fire investigators believe the pictures can teach us all a lesson.

"Have you seen any of the pictures where you can actually see (how the fire spread)? It's just fascinating," says Oliver Alkire, deputy state fire marshal.

The charred remains reveal how far and fast the fire spread - destroying the kitchen, smoke coating a bedroom.

The pictures also show one room that looks untouched.

"You can easily see what doors have been left open and what doors are closed," Alkire says.

That closed door could be a lifesaver.

"There's been temperatures anywhere from 500 up to 1,000 degrees outside that door, and just one or 2 inches inside the room, it's down to 100 degrees," Alkire says.

Fire investigators say the material and construction of your door depends on how long you have.

If it's hollow, you could have up to five minutes to escape. If it's solid wood, that can give you up to ten minutes to get out.

The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute helps set safety standards. The group has launched their Close Before You Doze campaign nationwide.

"We are really trying to preach it," says Alkire.

"You've got to think about fire and how it's impinging on that door," he says. "It's trying to breach through that door, but fire always goes up over and down - so it has difficulty trying to bridge the door."

Firefighters stress a closed door does not replace a smoke alarm.

You should always check those and have an escape plan, but part of that plan should including shutting whatever door you exit out of.

"Given time it's going to bridge that door," says Alkire. "But it's going to give you enough time to get out."

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