Dec. 08--HYANNIS -- Katie Thibeau had to think quickly to save her two young children when a fire broke out in her Main Street apartment building on Saturday afternoon.
Trapped on the second story of the three-unit home at 174 Main St., she had few options.
"The fire was right next to us," Thibeau said. So she and her husband, Michael Barros, grabbed little Anabelle, 4, and 1-year-old Michael and ran toward a window.
Luckily, there was a bystander within shouting distance, and Barros -- his feet held by Thibeau -- was able to lower the children to safety. Thibeau was lowered out next and Barros followed her, leaping out of the window.
"It was scary," Barros said.
"The fire spread so fast," Thibeau added.
All four were shaken up, but unharmed.
The house caught fire at about 4:15 p.m. Saturday, rendering it uninhabitable, said Hyannis Deputy Fire Chief Dean Melanson. Nine people were displaced, according the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts.
The property is owned by Nancy Johnson and is assessed at $356,400, according to Barnstable assessor's records.
There were no injuries, and the cause is under investigation, he added.
Kat Powers of the Red Cross said the landlord of the house is assisting two adults and three children who live there with alternate housing, and the Red Cross is providing them with emergency funds for food and clothing. The organization also is providing hotel accommodations for the four remaining adults, in addition to providing them with money for food and clothing.
Improper disposal of smoking materials or a malfunctioning electrical heater are being investigated as possible causes, said Hyannis Fire Department Capt. Eric Kristofferson.
Thibeau's family had just sat down for dinner when the fire started. She said the smell of smoke was "really strong," and Thibeau feared if she waited for the Fire Department, her family might not have made it out alive.
Two teenagers in the building also were nearly trapped by the blaze and, like Thibeau and her family, made hasty escapes to avoid injury.
Fresh out of the shower, Alyssa Balon, 18, said she smelled smoke, but thought little of it. But once she heard banging and the smoke began to thicken, she ran out, she said.
"I was just in my bra," Balon said, "I couldn't see."
Without shoes and clad in a leopard-print blanket, Balon was crying and making phone calls in the wake of the fire.
Her friend, Caitlyn Carowley, 15, had been staying with her and also ran to safety. "It was so scary," she said.
Nearly a dozen emergency vehicles from Hyannis, Yarmouth, Cotuit, Barnstable, and Centerville-Osterville-Marstons-Mills fire departments were on scene. Portions of Main and School streets were closed by Barnstable police while firefighters worked.
A few weeks ago, Thibeau said she was ready to move her family out of 174 Main St. But when the cost of her future home suddenly went up, she stayed.
"And now it's Christmas, and we lost everything," she said.
According to the Red Cross, a second neighboring building had power knocked out during the fire, temporarily displacing eight residents until later in the evening, when electricity was restored.
Copyright 2013 - Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.