On Saturday, healthcare worker Jennifer Graves got home from her shift around 5:30 a.m. As she approached her home in Parkland, Washington, she noticed something unusual about a neighbor’s house.
“It looked like a bonfire,” Graves told KIRO 7. “But it was too big.”
As she got closer, she realized the situation was much more dire than it first appeared to be.
“And the closer I got, the scarier it was,” Graves, who didn’t want to appear on camera, said. “And I just called 911.”
The house was home to a family of six, and according to Captain Darrin Shaw, it was Graves who started banging on the door in an attempt to see if the family was home and, if so, to warn them of the fire.
Graves told reporters that it didn’t take long for the family to appear and safely exit the burning building — but then the dad realized only five of them had gotten out: The couple’s 11-year-old daughter was still missing.
The father tore back into the house and went upstairs where his daughter was. Both of them became trapped.
Seeing their predicament, Graves encouraged them to jump. Fire crews arrived but had to cut back plants on the property before they could access the house.
The father and daughter made it out but had to be hospitalized.
“A family of six was saved from an early morning house fire in Parkland by the swift actions of Mrs. Graves (returning home from work), by calling 911, pounding on the doors waking the occupants, helping with the evacuation of the kids, and two adults,” the Central Pierce Fire & Rescue posted on Feb. 26.
“The father is being treated for burns and smoke inhalation; the children are being treated at a local trauma center for injuries sustained from jumping from the windows and burns. The Pierce County Fire Marshal is investigating the cause.”
According to KIRO 7, the father was in critical condition when he was taken to the hospital, but if it hadn’t been for Graves, the entire family could have perished.
“Had it not been for the neighbor today, knocking on doors, waking them up, we would have definitely had a very different outcome,” Shaw said.
“God put me in the right place at the right time,” Graves added.
The fire department is using this story as a reminder for people to make sure they have working smoke detectors and to close their room doors at night, so if a fire does break out, it takes longer to spread.
They also said that it’s important to make sure your house is accessible for emergency vehicles. Your local fire department may be able to check for you if you’re unsure.
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