By Judi Curry
Editor Note: San Diego Free Press turns 5 this month! We are dipping into our archives for memorable examples of citizen journalism that we have published since 2012. Judi Curry’s 2013 mysterious fire alarms story continues to be one of our most popular articles. Congratulations Judi!
My dog Buddy and I were awakened early Sunday morning by the smoke alarm going off in our bedroom. (Yes, Buddy and I sleep in the same room – although not in the same bed.) He freaked out because the high pitched noise hurts his ears, and he quickly ran into the other part of the house to hide.
Approximately one half hour later, one of the two smoke detectors in the hallway began to beep and Buddy ran outside. Being only 5’3”, I could not reach the two detectors to remove the batteries, and, having a broken shoulder, did not want to take the chance of using a ladder. I waited until 9am before I texted my neighbor Mark – who is well over 6’4”, – to ask for his help in replacing the batteries.
But in the 20 minutes before he answered my text, the second detector in the hallway began to beep. I looked up in the attic to see if there was a problem – a fire, maybe? – but found nothing.
By the time Mark came over – 9:30am or so, two more detectors were beeping. Mark changed the batteries in two of them, and since it was quiet, left for home. No sooner had he walked out the door when the two more alarms began to beep.
By this time I was out of 7 volt batteries and called another neighbor – Jim – to see if he had a few extra I could buy from him. He brought some over, along with a contraption that tests the voltage in batteries, and proceeded to change the one in the hallway.
About that time, Mark texted me back and asked how things were going. I told him the detectors were still going nuts, and he asked if I wanted him to come remove them and would purchase new ones for me the next time he went to Home Depot. I told him I thought it was a great idea and within seconds – he came via skateboard – he was at the house removing the offending smoke detectors.
As he was walking out the door, we heard another beep! This one came from an alarm he had put new batteries in earlier. Rather than have him put it back on the ceiling, I kept it on the chair to see if the infernal beeping would stop. It didn’t, and we then took out the battery in that one also.
Mark had been gone only 5 minutes when I heard a “beep” again. Impossible! He had removed ALL the batteries from ALL smoke detectors. I did a “room by room” search, thinking that maybe my late husband had hidden a detector when he installed them, but, alas, I could not find any more, and, for Buddy’s sake – who had been sitting in the swimming pool for 4 hours to get away from the noise – thought I was hearing things.
Then I walked into the bedroom to check on Buddy, and the carbon monoxide detector began beeping! Holy crap! I removed that offending device; removed the batteries which Jim checked and said were useless; and replaced them with brand new ones. I put the detector back on the wall, and, for the past 36 minutes, there have been no beeps or odd noises.
Of course Buddy is still in the pool; and I have written an e-mail to Dave Scott from KUSI asking him if the large moon at 5am this morning could have been a contributing factor to this strange smoke detector behavior. All of the smoke detectors were purchased at different times; all of the batteries have been replaced at different times; but everyone one of them – 7 volts as well as the AA’s in the carbon monoxide detector went out within two hours of each other.
My live in Asian students – of which I have two – are convinced that my late husband is haunting the house – phantom flushes of the toilet; doors left open we swore were closed, and now this.
Did anyone else have any problems with their batteries on Sunday, June 23rd? Or does anyone have an explanation for this?
Editor Note: This article was originally published on June 24, 2013