By the time the residents of the Gary Malone Trailer Park in South Point, Ohio, saw the smoke and flames pouring out of Ashley Mays’ mobile home, there was little they could do. They called 9-1-1, grabbed some water hoses and tried kicking in the home’s door in an effort to rescue Mays and her three children, 5-year-old Elijah and 1-year-old twins Anthony and Preston. Their efforts, though, were negated by the intensity of the flames. By the time the fire department arrived a few minutes later, the mobile home was fully engulfed, and the 24-year-old mother and her three children were dead.
The tragedy drew a lot of media attention and sparked an emotional response from others in the region who feared the same thing could happen to their home. The preliminary investigation found the mobile home did not have smoke alarms, so Red Cross disaster workers—in addition to providing support to Mays’ family and the first responders who fought the fire—worked to alleviate the fears by returning to the trailer park and installing smoke alarms in all of the remaining mobile homes. They then went to two other trailer parks in the area, installing 50 smoke alarms in two days.
The tragedy is that four people died, but the attention their deaths created and subsequent installation of 50 smoke alarms in the homes of their neighbors may just result in someone else escaping a fire. This is why the Red Cross created and is so committed to the Home Fire Campaign. Smoke alarms increase the chance of survival by 50 percent, and everyone deserves that chance.