ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Two teenage girls escaped from a burning house in St. Paul late Monday afternoon, and crews believe it started because of an electric space heater.
The fire department said the two girls were in a house on the 500 block of Farrington Street at about 4:30 p.m. when they noticed the lights flickering.
One of the girls, Gaozouapa Vue, said she smelled smoke, looked around and saw the flames, growing bigger and bigger.
“I just saw fire, just fire,” she said. “That’s all I could think of, just fire and smoke.”
Vue said she remembers the smoke alarms going off and then saw the shadows of the flames.
“They were really big, I just panicked,” she said. “I couldn’t really think. All I could think of was saving my little sister and me and getting help.”
The girls found a window shade in a bedroom on fire and called 911. Their attempt to extinguish the fire was not successful, and they fled when the fire began to spread.
Vue said there was so much smoke filling the room that her little sister couldn’t breathe.
“She ran out before me. She was really scared, because she was really young, so she started panicking, she started coming and going in and out of the house, telling me to go out,” she said.
Fire crews arrived and extinguished the blaze, but not before it damaged the rear portion of the house, which sustained heat, smoke and water damage.
Vue said she started crying while she watched firefighters try and save her house.
Crews said it appeared an electric space heater was too close to combustible materials in the bedroom.
No one was injured in the fire, and everyone managed to escape safely.
In all, eight people were living inside the house that now need to find new homes. The Red Cross is providing assistance.
But as sad as the girls are about losing their home, the parents of those girls say they’re very proud.
They know the loss could have been much worse had Vue and her sister not made it out alive.
Firefighters warn that if you use space heaters in your home, you need to have them at least two or three feet away from anything that can burn. You should also make sure the cords aren’t frayed and the heater is in good condition.