A working smoke detector could have saved four people renting a base­ment suite in an early morning fire yesterday in NW Calgary, firefighters say.

Investigators have found only one smoke detector in the basement, which melted to the floor as a result of high heat during the fire. They believe the detector was not wired correctly and did not contain a battery.

“If it’s not expired, not an old detector, maintained properly, cleaned and working, then we believe it would have gotten them out sooner,” said Jeff Budai with Calgary firefighters.

Luckily Rob Hannigan, an upstairs tenant, woke up to the sounds of screaming, a dog barking and thick smoke creeping up from the basement of the bungalow where he rents.

He immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher in an attempt to help the young couple and their friends who live downstairs, but couldn’t get past the heat and smoke.

“I’m quite worried about them,” Hannigan said of the tenants. “I wish I could have done something to get them out. The ambulance showed up in about four or five minutes … They all came out unconscious.”

The fire is believed to have started because of a space heater placed too close to combustible objects. Damages to the home are estimated at $100,000.