Portsmouth Family Escapes Early Morning Fire

Firefighters said the family had a safety plan and that helped them get out fast and calmly.

Photo Courtesy: ABC6
Photo Courtesy: ABC6
Four people living in a Sprague Street home made it out of their house safely after a fire early Thursday morning and Portsmouth Firefighters are crediting them with practicing a safety plan, which helped them stay calm and safe.

Portsmouth Firefighters got a 911 phone call at 3:08 a.m., said Dep. Chief Michael P. O'Brien, and the caller yelled "fire!" before the line was disconnected.

Want to help the family? CLICK HERE for clothing sizes and a donation page.

Dispatchers were able to track the call to the address at 251 Sprague Street and firefighters rushed to the scene where they found the entire front side of the house engulfed in flames with the fire spreading to the second floor.

The family was outside of the house when firefighters arrived and the mother of the family said she woke up to the sounds of crackling and popping. She looked out the window and saw a "large glow," which spurred her into action, waking up the family and getting them outside "just as the fire started to spread into the house," O'Brien said.

That was when the smoke detectors finally went off — a result of the fire starting outside, not inside the house.

The family, which had practiced a fire escape plan — and even had invested in escape ladders for the second-floor rooms, though they weren't used — "did the right thing when the fire happened and their [planning] all came together," O'Brien said.

Even the family dog and cat made it out safely before firefighters were able to knock down the flames, which had spread inside and up to the second floor. 

Crews used Tower Ladder 1, which enables crews to spray thousands of gallons directly onto the top of a structure, to quickly put out the spreading fire.

"That truck was instrumental this morning," O'Brien said. "Not a lot of a departments have one like it."

The fire, which remains under investigation, appears to have been accidental when it started outside the house. Though the exact cause has not yet been determined, O'Brien said it's not uncommon for fires to start outside of a structure when conditions are dry. Even a tiny ignition source gets "amplified" in hot and dry conditions, O'Brien said.

Firefighters made quick work of the blaze, thanks in part to Tower Ladder 1, as well as an "aggressive attack," O'Brien said. 

The fire also destroyed two cars parked in the driveway.

O'Brien praised the family for having a fire escape plan and said the department works hard to educate Portsmouth families about the importance of having such a plan. It's part of a campaign that includes visits to area schools to teach children about having fire drills at home.

The result is that children come home and tell their parents. And few parents are willing to brush off their child's suggestion to practice fire drills and to stay safe.

That effort "may have paid off this morning," O'Brien said. "It's a sad situation — they lost their home and a lot of their possessions, but it's fortunate that nobody was injured."
Kathy Whitmarsh July 03, 2014 at 09:23 AM
http://www.youcaring.com/fundraiser-widget.aspx?frid=198664 I just donated. It's very, very easy. Share the heck out of this on everyone's facebook, instagram, and so on. The Raposa's are great folks!
Traci-Ayn Moore Clays July 03, 2014 at 09:35 AM
The childrens' sizes are: girl size 8, boy size 4 bottoms/size 5 shirts. Parents: Mom size 6 pants and medium shirts. Dad, size 30 pants and large shirts.
Claire Arrico July 03, 2014 at 11:49 AM
So sorry, they are such a wonderful family sending prayers.
Amy Lamoureux Courville July 03, 2014 at 11:53 AM
Is there a drop off location for donated clothing items?


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