A potentially deadly situation was averted early Tuesday morning when a 13-year-old girl awoke at about 3 a.m. to find her house filling with smoke, alerted the rest of her family and helped them evacuate.
A candle left burning in a closet started the house fire in the 1000 block of Leland Street in La Presa, according to the . It took responding crews about 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze.
In serendipitous circumstances, the teenager told investigators that she woke up because she happened to remember a book that she needed for school. When she was putting the book into her backpack, she noticed the smoke, according to Leonard Villarreal, spokesman for San Miguel Fire. Fire crews credit the girl with preventing serious injury or loss of life.
"We can clearly say that the 13-year-old's response saved the family,'' Villarreal said.
The family of seven, including an infant who was sleeping in a crib near the bedroom where the candle was left, were able to escape unharmed.
Villarreal said there was an estimated $5,000 in losses to the structure (mostly from smoke damage), and about $10,000 in damage to the contents of the closet. He added that the home did not have smoke detectors.
"So we're really stressing not leaving candles burning [unattended] and making sure you have working smoke detectors,'' Villarreal said.
City News Service contributed to this report.