Residents escape fire that claims pets

Fire officials think blaze was accidental.
Friday, March 11, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:45 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Four family pets — three cats and a dog — died in a fire early Thursday morning in the 5400 block of Arrowwood Drive. The fire, which started in the garage, caused an estimated $100,000 in damage, including the total loss of a vehicle inside, fire officials said.

Shortly after midnight, a neighbor noticed fire coming from the garage and called 911, according to a press release from the Columbia Fire Department. The owner of the house and her grandson were both in bed when the fire began. Smoke detectors woke them and they were able to safely evacuate the house before fire crews arrived at scene.

“The majority of fires are in homes and they are at night,” said Lt. Debbie Sorrell, assistant fire marshal with the Fire Department.

“Some people think that the smell of the smoke will wake them up. But smoke is full of poisonous gasses that make you go into a deeper sleep,” she said, stressing the importance of having working smoke detectors.

The owner and her grandson were unhurt but asked that their names not be released.

“They did a great job getting out, but the door was left open, which allowed the fire and smoke to enter the house,” Sorrell said.

Closing the doors as you exit can help protect property, she said.

Families should have an escape plan, “just like you practice at school and work,” Sorrell said.

Fire Department investigators conducted interviews with the owner on Thursday. The department says it does not suspect arson, and while the exact cause has yet to be determined, fire investigators think the cause was accidental.

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