A northwest family was alerted to their house being on fire on Dec. 31 by Pat Abel, assistant fire chief of the Northwest Fire District.
Abel and his wife were leaving their home when they noticed smoke in the neighborhood. Abel's wife thought it may be a tree on fire, but Abel knew better and recognized the black smoke as a house burning, not just a tree.
Within minutes, he was knocking on the door of the two-story house, which had flames coming from the chimney and roof area.
The family inside had no idea that the home, at 5166 W. Nighthawk near Overton and Hartman, was on fire.
Fire crews were on scene in seven minutes, finding the chimney area, the roof and the interior first floor attic space on fire.
The family of four, and some pets were already out safely and the fire was brought under control within 12 minutes of the arrival of the first Engine Company.
The family had been using their fire place since approximately 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
The interior of the house did not show signs of the raging fire as smoke from the fire traveled out the top of the chimney and attic vents of the home. The fire had spread to the attic space of the first floor family room as well. Although the home did have smoke detectors, they did not activate until after the residents were evacuated.
Fire investigators on the scene have determined that the chimney flue failed, allowing the fire and super-heated air to spread to the drywall and wood structure of the home.
Northwest Fire Community assistance teams were on the scene to assist the family with lodging needs.
The home will need repairs before the owners can safely occupy the structure. Displaced from the home were a 43 and 42 year-old husband and wife as well as a 17 year-old daughter and an 11 year-old son.
Damages were estimated to be $20, 000.
Northwest Fire reminds all chimney/fireplace owners to have the system inspected and cleaned on a yearly basis by a licensed professional. There will be several more "cold" winter nights ahead, and a safe clean fireplace works best.