A tragic reminder about smoke detectors

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

February 24, 2012 1:36:42 PM PST
We pretty much knew smoke detectors would somehow figure into that deadly fire in South Plainfield, New Jersey, and today we learned they were.

And in the part of the big old farmhouse where 4 people survived, the smoke detectors were working.

In the part of the big old farmhouse where 5 people died, the smoke detectors were not working. The victims - a grandmother and 4 of her grandchildren.

If only those detectors had been working.

It's such a simple mantra, and it can't be repeated too often. Smoke detectors save lives, but they can't do that if they're not working.

We'll have the latest on the family tragedy in New Jersey, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we'll have the latest from Syria, where today the Red Cross arrived in the city of Homs and started getting people out. The government has been pounding Homs because it's been a hotbed of opposition resistance, but in the process, the Syrian regime has turned the town into shambles - and also a symbol of Syrian tyranny and oppression. Late this afternoon, Pres. Obama said the U.S. would continue to pressure the Syrian government to stop slaughtering civilians, and he urged the world community to unite to oppose the lopsided violence.

And if you thought you had a tough day, consider the rather forgettable day on the campaign trail had by one Mitt Romney. First, his advance staff booked a rally for Ford Stadium, which seats 80,000. The folding seats that they unfolded between the goal line and the 20-yard line produced a picture that looked, well, like they were in an empty stadium. Which they were.

Not the image the campaign wanted.

Mr. Romney ended the speech with a rather uncomfortable glimpse into his personal life - saying he drove American cars, and that his wife has a couple of Cadillacs.

After that "rally," Mr. Romney went to a yet-to-open restaurant called "The Mitt," where the owner was quick to point out that his eatery was NOT named for the Republican Presidential candidate - but it is named, as Mr. Romney is, for the nickname of Michigan.

And our Nina Pineda tonight has the convoluted tale of cash-strapped Nassau County, trying to recoup tens of millions of dollars it may or may not be owed by people who did or didn't pay their parking tickets years ago.

An audit of the county's record keeping on parking tickets showed that it was shoddy at best. Now the county has blanket-mailed notices to residents that they owe lots of money on unpaid parking tickets. The problem is ? the county has no way of knowing whether the car owner paid or didn't pay the ticket at the time it was issued.

Officials are just throwing the stuff against the wall, hoping some of it sticks - or more accurately in this case, hoping some people pay money.

Tonight the story of one woman who insists she paid her parking tickets 15 years ago. The problem: She can't prove she did, and the county has no way of proving she didn't. So she called Nina and got 7 On Your Side.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, right after tonight's special 20/20 - a Barbara Walters special on the latest plastic surgery procedures. I also have a report on the special ? mine is about men getting into the swing of things with cosmetic procedures, including leg lengthening. That's right. Leg lengthening, to make themselves taller.


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