A Rolla teenager awoke early Christmas morning to find her family’s house on fire and all of the residents managed to escape with no injuries.
According to Fire Chief Robert Williams, of the City of Rolla Fire and Rescue, the home in the 1300 block of Highland Drive was heavily damaged by the fire, smoke and heat.
Initially six firefighters responded to the scene of the fire, which reportedly started around 3:30 to 3:45 a.m. but in all, 20 crew members with the fire department assisted by the time the scene was cleared, the chief said.
“The owner of the home was in the backyard when he called the 911 dispatcher and said he could hear us leaving the station (on 10th Street),” Williams said.
The cause of the fire was “improperly discarded ashes from the fireplace,” according to the fire chief.
Williams said while the ashes were in a metal container, the container was placed on a wooden step of a patio and over time, it dried out and then ignited the wood. The fire started at the exterior of the home and then went up into the attic.
Williams said the homeowner’s 15-year-old daughter was in the home, heard a noise, woke up and saw that the house was full of smoke. The girl then woke everyone else up and the family managed to escape using the front door.
“For the amount of fire, our guys did a really good job getting it under control,” Williams said. He estimated that the fire was controlled in about 20 to 30 minutes.
“We urge people that clean out their fireplaces or heater to be extremely careful ... and to discard your ashes in a metal container and put it out away from the house and even wet them down,” Williams said.