A mother and two children escaped from a Summit Street apartment fire just before firefighters arrived Friday morning.
When fire officials arrived at 835 Summit St. around 9 a.m., they saw light and smoke coming from the rear of the building and entered into an apartment full of smoke.
"There was a small amount of fire in the kitchen area, and they were able to get a quick knock down on the fire," Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada said. "They had to tear down part of the wall to get to the remaining hot spots."
The mother and children, ages 2 and 4, were asleep at home when one child woke up coughing.
"This woke the mother up, and she realized there was smoke in the apartment and was able to evacuate them," Canada said. The three were transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center and treated for smoke inhalation.
Smoke damaged the entire apartment, and the damage is estimated at $40,000. The family is being relocated to a new apartment by the complex manager.
Fire officials found that the flames started in a trash can in the kitchen area, but they haven't yet determined what caused the initial spark.
"One thing we did find in the apartment was that the smoke detector was not working. The battery was dead and corroded," Canada said. "It could have alerted them much earlier ... One of the things we like to encourage people around this time of year is to check their smoke detectors and change the batteries."
October is Fire Prevention Month, and Oct. 3-9 is National Fire Prevention Week. Fire officials will visit schools throughout the week to encourage fire safety tips.
"It's also getting close to when the time changes, and we like to tell people to change their smoke detector batteries when the time changes," Canada said. "This situation could have turned out differently. I'm glad everyone was OK, but the smoke detector definitely could have alerted the occupants sooner if the battery had been working."