Friday, February 13, 2004

Man escapes house fire after cat wakes him up in middle of night


Michael Pierce’s cat saved his life early Wednesday morning, waking him up to a fire that engulfed his north Fayette home around 2 a.m.

After discovering the fire, Smith escaped through a ground level window and ran to a neighbor's house on Victoria Court to call 911 after his cellphone didn’t work, said Capt. Pete Nelms of the Fayette County Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

The department is investigating the cause of the fire but no determination has yet been made, Nelms said. Damages were estimated to reach over a half-million dollars.

“We’re investigating it like any other fire we have,” Nelms said.

The blaze almost completely destroyed the roof of the house and caused substantial damage to the two main floors and basement, Nelms said.

Flames were showing when the first county fire crew arrived six minutes after receiving the call, Nelms said. More crews were called to the scene, based on the sheer size of the house alone, which was estimated at over 6,000 sq. ft., Nelms said.

The Fayetteville Fire Department provided “excellent” assistance to fight the fire, Nelms noted. Six fire engines responded along with two ambulances, two rescue trucks, the county fire department's manpower squad and Fayetteville's tower truck.

No firefighters were injured during the blaze, Nelms said.

The city's tower truck supplied water from above to fight the flames, Nelms added.

The last county fire truck left the scene almost 14 hours after the fire was first reported. The extended amount of time was due to the initial investigation that took place, Nelms said.

Firefighters escorted Pierce into his home to retrieve some personal belongings late in the afternoon.

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