Couple, dog evacuate after fire sparks inside condo

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A man tried to put out a fire himself when flames sparked in his bathroom early Tuesday morning.

"He did try to put it out with a showerhead ... he was able to put that out, but then it got smokier and smokier, and he saw the fire in the ceiling and so he exited the building," said Lt. Kevin Ducy with the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

The man had been jolted awake by a popping noise, which Ducy said was extremely fortunate because he didn't have any smoke alarms in his condo.

Firefighters responded to the Sierra Pointe Condominiums off Van Teylingen at 2:30 a.m. and quickly evacuated neighboring apartments.

Tiffany Tafoya, who was sleeping inside the apartment where the fire started, said it was a scary experience.

"He [her friend] smelt it and I was like, 'We need to get out, something doesn't smell right.' I grabbed the dog and left."

Ducy said crews had to take the firefight to the roof.

"It's vaulted-type ceilings, so there's no real way to get ladders up inside the building to get access. ... Our firefighters headed to the roof in case they had to cut through the roof to let the fire vent out and not spread through the building ... they found it was contained to that small area in the bathroom. They were able to extinguish it at that time, so they did not have to cut through the roof."

Investigators say the fire started in a fan in the bathroom and may have been sparked by faulty electrical wiring.

Though the fire was out fast, Ducy said the situation could have been far direr if the occupants hadn't woken up on their own.

"What can happen is it can smolder in there if it's wiring or that kind of thing, for a long period of time, which can build up dangerous CO in the building, so that'll make you go further into deep sleep and you won't wake up if a fire breaks out. ... If he had his bedroom door shut, he may not have known that [there was a fire] for quite some time and the results could have much different."

He stressed all homes should be equipped with both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors "to give you early warning to vacate."

And though the occupant was able to put some of the fire out himself, Ducy said he did not recommend anyone trying that.

"We don't recommend anybody doing that, because obviously the flames could extend, you get trapped, you can't get out the door, and then obviously your life and your animals, your family could be in danger. The best thing to do is call 911 immediately."