NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The new year is a good time to check the batteries in your smoke detectors. If you don’t have any, the Red Cross will install them for free.

Ophia McCray took advantage of the free program last spring. Months later, she said the small devices saved her life.

On July 12, 2021, McCray’s home of 20 years went up in flames when lightning struck a metal chain link fence in her neighbor’s yard. A tree, with roots under her home, was touching that fence and investigators say that is what led to the spark in her basement.

“I heard a boom, and then the next thing I said, ‘let me go see what’s going on.’ I went back to get my keys and that’s when my smoke detector started going off because it was already on fire then,” McCray said.

McCray says she was able to escape through a small window and get outside before the flames fully engulfed her home. In December, she revisited the lot where her home once stood with News 2. Now, it is full of dirt and tools to start the rebuilding process.

Red Cross spokeswoman Sheri McKinney said since the nonprofit launched their home fire campaign in 2014, they’ve saved more than 1,100 lives nationwide and at least eight lives in Tennessee — including McCray.

McKinney says the goal is to educate people on fire prevention and planning for emergencies.

“We service literally everyone, no matter what your age, your race, your gender, your background. It does not matter to us. We’re here to serve our communities,” McKinney said.

McCray said her message for people who read about her story is to take advantage of the free Red Cross smoke detectors. Or, if you already have them, make sure they work!

“They offer those smoke detectors free of charge. Let somebody come out. You can call them and they will send someone to help you get them installed and give you specifics on all the necessary things you need to know about saving your life,” McCray said. “I wouldn’t have thought it would happen to me, but it did.”

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To contact your local Red Cross chapter, or learn more about the home fire prevention program, click HERE.