Employees credited with saving assisted living residents during fire

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TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. - Fire forces employees at assisted living center to rush patients out

A fire forced employees at an assisted living center to rush all patients out of the building.

Nearly two dozen people were moved to other Taylorsville facilities on Tuesday morning.

Many of the 22 residents at the Alexander Assisted Living Center had just awoken when someone spotted the smoke coming from one of the rooms around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

"It was thick and black smoke. It was terrible. I was happy to get out of there alive, to be honest with you," said resident Gavin Carr.

Five employees worked quickly to get the residents to safety, including some in wheelchairs as six different fire departments rushed to the assisted living center.

Britney Ewart was in a meeting when she heard someone yell there was a fire.

"It was a rush, very hectic but we managed well. Everyone did great. They were of course scared but we tried to make them feel as comfortable as they could," said Ewart.

To see images of the damage caused by the fire click here.

Firefighters gave workers at Alexander Assisted Living Center high marks for their quick response.

One firefighter told Eyewitness News all of the residents were outside when they arrived, but what really kept the fire from spreading was the sprinkler system.

Firefighters showed Eyewitness News one of the sprinkler heads.
We could see them pushing water out of the building where it went off after the fire started on a mattress.

Sheriff's deputies believe it was caused by a lit cigarette.

"I can tell you sprinkler systems are worth their weight in gold to a firefighter. Ninety-six to 98 percent of fires are kept in check in rooms with fires and that's exactly what happened in this case," said Emergency Service Director Russell Green.

Employees worked to clean up the mess and hope to have the residents moved back in later Wednesday evening.