HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) - Four people escaped a fire inside an
apartment house Monday after one of them was awakened by the smell
of smoke and rescued the other residents.
Fire investigators said the house near Hastings College did not
have working smoke detectors.
A woman sleeping on the first floor woke up to the smell of
smoke and immediately exited the house before going back in with a
passerby to evacuate a mother, daughter and grandchild from a
basement apartment, according to a report issued by Hastings Fire &
Rescue.
One of the residents who was 8 months pregnant was taken by
ambulance to Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital, but apparently not for
injuries sustained in the fire, Fire Prevention Officer Linda
Waldron said. The woman's condition was not immediately known.
The passerby, Don Treat, happened to be a firefighter from
Doniphan who was headed to his job at the college when he saw the
fire, which started sometime before 8:50 a.m. CDT.
The Hastings Fire & Rescue report said the three residents in
the basement apartment were not aware of the fire until awakened by
the first-floor resident, Treva Taylor, and Treat.
There were only smoke detectors in the basement apartment, but
none had batteries, Fire Chief Kent Gilbert said.
The cause of the fire was being investigated. The house suffered
significant structural damage, but it was not deemed a total loss,
Gilbert said.
Taylor said she thought an electrical outlet or a window air
conditioner started the blaze.
"I had a fan blowing in my room and I looked up and the couch
and the wall were on fire," she said.


(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)