MODESTO - A smoke detector awakened a mother in the nick of time Monday morning, and she was able to lead her four children to safety while the front of the home was engulfed in flames.
The alarm was called into the fire department at 6:33. At least four engines and Modesto Fire Chief Jim Miguel responded by 6:37 to a home in the 3300 block of Brooktree Lane in northwest Modesto.
As she stumbled out of bed and turned the corner from the hallway, Renee Matlock said she saw smoke billowing into the front room. Flames were starting to show from around the corner by the laundry room and kitchen. “I thought about going for the extinguisher, but it was back there where the flames were,” said Matlock, motioning toward the burned-out kitchen. “I decided to get my kids.”
She got her three of her children out, then had to go back inside for 3-year-old Andrew. Daughter Andrea, 7, told her the boy was in her bedroom.
“The house was filled with black smoke,” she said. She ran into her daughter’s room and found Andrew under a blanket. She picked him up like a football and ran out of the burning home.
Firefighters brought the blaze under control within a few minutes, but it caused an estimated $75,000 in damage. The insides were gutted and firefighters had put a large hole in the roof. The cause of the blaze was being investigated.
Miguel credited the fire alarm with saving five lives. He added that the city has a program to provide smoke detectors to all who need them. To learn about the program or get a smoke detector, call the fire prevention line at 571-5553.