A 16-year-old girl was hospitalized after a fire swept through a family's Fort Lauderdale home early Friday morning, and fire officials said it could have been a lot worse if not for a smoke detector.
Firefighters responded to the home in the 1500 block of Southwest 31st Avenue shortly before 4 a.m. after their received a notification from an alarm company, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan said.
Firefighters found moderate to heavy smoke coming from the house when they arrived, and found the residents of the home trying to rescue animals from inside, Gollan said.
The firefighters assisted with trying to rescue the animals while battling the blaze, which was contained to a back bedroom, Gollan said.
Gollan said the bedroom was severely damaged and there was smoke damage throughout the house.
"A majority of the house is a total loss," he said.
Resident Jackson Valiente said he woke up to the sound of the smoke alarm.
"It literally looked like a scene from a movie, just thick smoke, you can’t see nothing and then breathing it in, I don’t even know, I can’t describe," Valiente said. "I just ran to my kids rooms to see what was going on and my daughter’s room was completely covered in smoke so obviously it was coming from there."
Valiente was able to get his daughter and 11-year-old son out of the house, then worked to get the family's pets out.
Four dogs and four cats survived, but one cat did not, he said.
Valiente said his daughter was taken to a hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
Gollan said it could have been a lot worse.
"The young lady that was in the room where the fire had started she woke up to smoke and said that within minutes the bed was on fire, the very bed that she had been sleeping in," Gollan said. "The smoke detector is what saved this family's life."
Gollan said the fire likely was caused by an electrical issue, possibly something that was plugged into an outlet, but the official cause is being investigated.