June 28, 2011 (La Presa) -- A near fatal mistake on June 15, 2011 put the lives of seven family members in danger. Sheer luck in the actions of a 13 year old girl saves them all from death.
The San Miguel Fire District responded to a structure fire on the 1000 block of Leland Street. When crews arrived, thick black smoke was pouring from the residence. Despite early confusion, all seven people inside the home had been evacuated. It took fire crews about 20 minutes to knock down the fire, partly because of its location in a bedroom closet. A candle left unattended burning in a bedroom closet is cited as the cause of the fire.
A 13 year old resident told investigators she was asleep and woke up remembering she needed a book for school. She said that when she got up to put the book in her backpack, she discovered the three bedroom house was filling with smoke. There were no working smoke detectors in the home. Smoke damage indicates hot, toxic smoke had filled the top four feet of the house.
Investigators say given the amount of heated smoke, a “flashover” was perhaps 20 minutes away. Such a flashover could have easily taken the lives of everyone inside. At the time of the blaze, four adults, and three children, including an infant whose crib was very close to the origin of the fire, were in the home.
Some family members were treated for smoke inhalation on the scene, but all refused transport.
In this case, a family of seven survived because one teen was lucky enough to wake up. While luck played a role this time, it is not even remotely as dependable as a smoke detector. Total damage estimates put the structure and contents loss at $15,000.