A Fort Smith home is a loss after a fire tore through it early Tuesday morning (April 22nd). Crews on scene said they had to evacuate nearby families due to the large flames while they worked to get the fire under control.
Fort Smith Fire Battalion Chief Phil Christensen said the fire started in the 600 block of North Lecta Avenue just before 1 a.m.
"The smoke detectors went off, and the family started searching the house for smoke but couldn't see anything," Christensen said. "They started doing some further investigation and found the fire up in the attic. They then immediately called 911 and got their pets outside of the house. When we arrived on scene, flames were shooting through the roof."
Madylin Davis, 17, who lives in the house and was inside her upstairs bedroom when the fire started, said her dad and brother woke her up and got her out of the house, just before her room went up in flames.
"I freaked out and grabbed what I could," Davis said. "I got my dog, my pet snake, my purse and my cell phone and that's all I could grab because the fire was coming in."
Fire crews said the Davis family is fortunate they all made it out alive.
"My room is just completely gone," Davis said, watching her home burn from her driveway.
"The most important thing are those smoke detectors," Christensen said. "Smoke detectors are life savers. Had there not been any of them in place, the outcome could have been different."
Due to the extent of the fire, crews were forced to fight the fire in what's called 'defensive attack mode' before being able to transition to an 'offensive attack', Christensen said. That means crews had to fight the fire from the outside of the house once they first got on scene, until the fire was under control enough that crews could move inside and get the flames put out, Christensen explained.
While crews were battling the fire, nearby neighbors were evacuated from their homes, according to Christensen. In addition, dozens of neighbors across the street came out to see the crews work to put out the fire.
It took crews about two hours to get the flames under control. Christensen said the cause of the fire is still under investigation at this time.
The Davis family told 5NEWS they do have insurance on their house and are planning to file a claim once they get their belongings in order. They also added that they'll be staying with relatives for the time being.