Six narrowly escape fire |

Six narrowly escape fire

It wasn’t a smoke alarm that alerted a Truckee couple their Armstrong Tract home was on fire and filling quickly with smoke just before midnight Monday.

It was one of their young sons who fortunately woke up in time to bang on their bedroom door and give them just enough time to get their two children and two renters out of the house safely.

By the time firefighters arrived, flames were coming out of the windows and the six residents were standing outside the Sierra Drive home in the cold night air.

Once the family was safely out of the house, the father went back inside to try to rescue the family pets. The smoke was so dense, he was only able to rescue one of the family’s two dogs. Their other dog, two cats and three birds unfortunately were unable to be rescued and were later found dead in the house by firefighters.

“It’s just a miracle the family got out,” Truckee Fire Protection District Chief Mike Terwilliger said. “It was a hot smoldering fire with heavy smoke and the smoke alarm didn’t go off. If it had been another minute they would have been overcome with smoke in their sleep. It was really, really close. Luckily, it was a happy ending and no one was hurt.”

Terwilliger said fire officials believe the fire was started from candles that were left burning in the living room after they ruled out the possibility of an electrical fire. He said candles are becoming more and more of a fire hazard, causing an increasing number of fire incidents in recent years.

“My concern is these aromatherapy candles have become a new thing and there have been multiple fatalities around the nation from burning candles,” Terwilliger said.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire quickly, but there was serious damage to the entire house and most of the family’s possessions have been ruined. The parents and their two children were taken to Tahoe Forest Hospital were they were kept overnight for precautionary measures.

Truckee firefighters also responded to another smaller structure fire earlier Monday evening in an Estates Drive home. This fire, which occurred around 5:30 p.m., was started when a wooden chimney chase caught on fire, burning the chase and causing fire damage to part of the roof and the attic.

A chimney chase is a wooden structure built around a chimney flue or pipe on the outside of a house, usually for decorative purposes. If pipes aren’t properly cleaned or malfunction, fire can spread to the chase, Terwilliger said.

“We’ve had two or three fires a year that start that same way. People need to make sure their stoves and chimneys are cleaned and get them checked once in awhile,” Terwilliger said

Fire units arrived to the scene and quickly contained and extinguished the fire and performed extensive overhaul duties.

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