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Bravery, Exit Plan Save Family From House Fire

Bravery, Exit Plan Save Family From House Fire

Posted - Oct. 27, 2003 at 9:10 p.m.



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Samantha Hayes reporting A West Valley City family is alive thanks to a very brave grandfather. And something else.

Their home was destroyed by fire. But, everyone got out safely because of one man's bravery and the fact they had a plan in place for just such a situation.

Formally its called E.D.I.T.H- exit drill in the home. The Curl's met at a spot on their driveway. Firefighters say that works. Also a mailbox, pole, even a tree-- just make sure a spot outside the home is designated.

Last week the four Curl children were arranging the scarecrow around pumpkins grown in their own garden. Now it's one of the only things recognizable about their home.

Gordon Curl walks through the basement where the fire started at 11 o'clock Saturday night.

Gordon Curl/ Grandfather: "It's amazing any of us got out of here." "They said the bed was on fire." "Yeah, I guess it was."

Their youngest grandson was playing with a lighter inside the bedroom. The spark set the room on fire. The flames quickly spread.

Irene Curl/Grandmother: "The smoke was coming in fast, real fast. We were scared, but we got out okay."

The family met at a spot on the driveway they had picked out in the off-chance something like this could happen. But one child was missing.

"Where's Marissa? And she wasn't there."

Fire investigators say the stairway acted just like a chimney, forcing the smoke and flames up through the basement to the top of the house. And that's when Gordon Curl went back inside.

Gordon: "There wasn't anything to see. It was just so thick-- smoke-- you couldn't see anything."

The sound of Marissa's cries, led him through the smoke and both made it out okay.

Firefighters say when families don't arrange a place to meet beforehand, valuable time is wasted trying to find everyone.

Bob Fitzgerald/ West Valley City Fire Dept.: "We've seen that in the past where some of the kids might go to a neighbor's house or somewhere else, and unfortunately the parents go back in when a child is missing. But we've also had that with a bad outcome."

Fitzgerald says planning that meeting place is especially important now. He says fires happen more freqently in winter months because more people are inside using heat sources.

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