SIOUX FALLS, SD -
A Sioux Falls family escaped injury and escaped a fire early Monday morning. But the home-damaging fire isn't how Sioux Falls Fire Rescue wanted to start fire prevention week.
It took firefighters just fifteen minutes to knock down the flames at a home on the 5300 block of East Lake Placid Drive. But the damage will linger much longer than that. Fire officials say a candle is to blame. A 13-year-old child was reading by candlelight and fell asleep.
"Our strongest suggestion would be a small table lamp with a small bulb in it or a reading lamp next to your bed or desk to read by," Barry Maag, an inspector for Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, said.
The fire caused smoke damage to nearly the entire home, but as flames were spreading, the family remained under control. Each member knew how to escape, including the 13-year-old girl who jumped from her bedroom window. The family met at a neighbor's house, just as they'd practiced in fire drills.
"Five children in the house and two adults; that's a lot of people to keep track of. There's a lot of commotion, a lot of panic, but everybody knew what they were supposed to do. They went to their meeting place and everybody was safe," Maag said.
While firefighters say the damage to this house is unfortunate for this family, they also say it serves as a reminder to others to always be careful with flames.
That's one of the messages they hope to spread during this fire prevention week. They want families to check their smoke detectors, and keep the candles unlit, or be very careful.
“When using candles, make sure you're awake and you're around. If you're getting tired, blow them out," Maag said.
The charred scars of this home prove that advice is worth listening to, but having a plan saves what really matters.
The family says they don't know where the daughter got the candle because they typically don't use them in their home. They think the girl chose to read by candlelight so she could read without turning a light on and bothering others. The family plans to stay at a hotel or with family members until they're home is repaired or rebuilt.
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