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Publish Date: 4/13/2005

Four escape unharmed after early morning fire
Hanging lamp believed to have sparked blaze<


LONGMONT — A Longmont woman escaped with her life Tuesday morning after a basement bedroom she was sleeping in caught fire.

Firefighters said the woman awoke at around 3:45 a.m. to find a bedroom in a home at 2336 Corey Drive on fire. Investigators believe the blaze was sparked by a hanging lamp.

“She had to crawl past the fire to get out of the room,” said Lynn Huff, battalion chief with the Longmont Fire Department.

Once upstairs, the woman’s friend, Deannie Ernst, who owns the house, saved it from burning down because she stopped to close the basement door before running outside.

“I used to be on a rescue squad in Boulder so I did know to shut the door,” Ernst said Tuesday afternoon.

And because she did, the fire was deprived of the oxygen it needed.

“That was a very smart move,” Huff said.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze using fewer than 100 gallons of water.

Huff said investigators don’t know why the lamp caught fire, but it quickly spread to a nearby couch and pile of clothes.

Ernst said she had left her hanging swag lamp on in the room for her friend because the room stays so dark.

“I don’t know what happened,” she said. “It doesn’t put off that much light.”

And because the fire burned in a room directly underneath the house’s telephone lines, the women were unable to use a land line to call 911. But they quickly found a cell phone to call for help.

“I think we were within minutes of this being a fatal fire,” Huff said.

“The house had smoke detectors and they all went off,” he said, adding that Ernst’s house is just down the street from Fire Station Four in north Longmont.

Ernst said she will be putting an extra smoke detector in the basement, inside the room that caught fire Tuesday morning.

“The firefighters told me you should have a smoke detector in every room, especially if you’re going to have the door shut,” she said.

Noting that smoke from the fire took some time to trip the sole smoke detector in the basement, Ernst said she was glad her friend woke up in time to make it out of the basement.

“My friend could have died in that room,” she said. “It probably took them two or three minutes to come up, but to me it seemed like forever.”

Ernst, her daughter and two friends who were staying at the house Monday — who all went to stay with friends after the fire —will be able to return to the home by the end of today.

Amanda Arthur can be reached at 303-684-5215, or by e-mail at aarthur@times-call.com.

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