Bend mom recounts harrowing escape from fire
All belongings lost - but family safe; fund established
A Bend home is destroyed after fire ripped through it Tuesday night.
Fire officials say the blaze started because the family's iguana enclosure was made of combustible materials, and it was too close to the wood stove.
Stephonie Smith, 25, and her family are lucky to be alive.
"I was sleeping, and I woke up to the smell of smoke," Smith said. "I got my oldest and my youngest down to my neighbors, and my middle child happened to run back in the house, so I had to run back in and grab her."
The fire left the family with nothing but piles of ash amid the snow.
When asked Wednesday if Smith recognized the home she said, "No, not at all. It actually breaks my heart."
Oregon law requires landlords to install a working smoke detector in the home, but it's the tenants job to check it. Smith told the fire department there were no batteries in the one at the rental home her family has called home for more than two years.
"Having that early warning of a smoke alarm is really critical," Bend Deputy Fire Marshal Cindy Kettering said. "A fire can double in size every few minutes."
But without those extra minutes, Smith only has a few items to salvage.
Happy to have all that's important, Tuesday night's tragedy is one that will forever be burned in Smith's memory.
"Very happy that everyone's safe, and I have my family," Smith said. "That's all that matters to me."
Smith's workplace; High Desert Assisted Living, is accepting donations of clothing and other necessities for the family. They have also set up a relief fund. It is at Wells Fargo; the account name is the Stephonie Smith Donation Fund.
The American Red Cross is helping the family now with its needs.
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