Oprah's 'Big Give' Challenge to ABC 30

April 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A lifesaving idea is growing fast in the Valley, thanks mostly to Oprah Winfrey and her show "The Big Give."Oprah challenged ABC 30 to make $10,000 dollars do a lot of good and the money has helped Cal-Fire buy thousands of these smoke detectors. 5,000 of them are going up in Fresno County communities on Saturday and tonight, volunteers learned how to put them up in homes without detectors.

The annoying sound of a smoke detector can be a lifesaver and it's going to ring out all across Fresno County on Saturday.

Volunteers gathered by the hundreds in Clovis Thursday, signing up for "The Big Save" and preparing for a massive effort. All these new faces are completely changing the cal-fire program. Volunteers installed about 1,000 smoke detectors over the last year. Motivated by the deaths of Ruvi and Anna Escalante in a house without detectors; now, they'll do five times that in one day.

Fresno County Cal-Fire Chief Keith Larkin said, "I mean, 5000 homes? That's a huge undertaking and we wouldn't normally attempt that, but because of the donation and because of the interest in the project, this is a great time to make that kind of progress."

For some volunteers, like prosecutor Michelle West-Scott, the reason for joining up is personal. "I recently did a fire/arson type case where someone died and so it really impacted me personally."

A team of UPS drivers from Visalia joined up to help the people they serve, and to challenge each other. "What we're gonna do is have a little inner competition against each other and get it done really quick," said volunteer Jay Russel.

This group of Parlier High School students helped out the first time firefighters installed smoke detectors, last year in the Calwa community where Ruvi and Anna died. They say the reactions from homeowners brought them back. "Their eyes would be like, 'So, I can be safe for free?' and it was a feeling you can't even describe," said volunteer Andrea Negrete.

Even after "The Big Save" Saturday, Cal-Fire said it still needs to install 6,000 more smoke detectors around the county. They said the program could go on forever as long as the community stays interested.


Load Comments