by: Joanna Small Updated:EVERETT, Wash. —
A family in Everett says they are lucky to be alive tonight after fire destroyed their home. Investigators are now trying to determine what started this morning's fire in a neighborhood near the Mukilteo Ferry terminal.
Catherine Allen says she awoke to huge flames and a smoke-filled house. But before she smelled the burning or felt the heat -- she heard a faint beeping sound.
"I think, 'What if I hadn't woken up?' If the fire would have kept going the children would have been next,” she tells us from outside the charred remains of the house.
Firefighters say the smoke detector likely saved the Allens' lives.
"Kind of the lesson learned here today is smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are very important,” says Eric Hicks with the Everett Fire Department.
Good timing is important, too. Allen says she and her three young boys escaped just in time to watch the house burn from a neighbor’s yard.
"My daughter and my sister have rooms upstairs and they are both gone for the weekend, thank goodness,” Allen says.
Another woman rents an upstairs room where our camera caught flames still popping up hours after the fire started. She wasn't home either. But Allen's daughter's dog was on the deck; a neighbor used a ladder to rescue it. Two cats that belonged to the other tenant and two birds that belonged to the Allens didn't survive.
"My daughter is going to take that very, very hard; those were her birds also."
The Allens tell us they have a great relationship with their church and will lean on that family first for help. They also tell us they have renter's insurance and were already in the process of finding another place to live.