A Maryville woman, her daughter and her cat are alive due to luck and a special effort by the Maryville Fire Department.

WVLT-Bob Brunner

A faulty furnace at a rental house on Melrose Street in Maryville had been sickening the occupants for months. On Saturday, local firefighters spent part of the day walking the neighborhoods, offering to inspect and replace smoke detectors. In the house in question, they found toxic levels of carbon monoxide and combustible levels of gas. “That’s how we can’t figure out how [the residents] are not dead or out on the street,” says Lt. Mike Berry of the Maryville Fire Department. “Evidently, it got so rich it wouldn’t explode.”

The rental house was immediately closed, and the owner offered to make immediate repairs and find temporary housing for the tenants. The danger was extreme. “If you don’t know what it is, you may think you have flu symptoms or something like that,” says fire inspector Ted Williams.

On Tuesday afternoon, repairs were completed, and smoke detectors were installed and tested. Joyce Rogers, her daughter and her cat, Mr. Peepers, were allowed to move back in. “I am so grateful these guys came around checking that,” Rogers says. “I knew we felt bad. I didn’t put anything together. It scared me. It really scared me good.”