An unattended candle started a fire that quickly engulfed the living room of a Pierce Street home Thursday morning and sent one of its occupants fleeing into the street for safety.
Glois Alexander told firefighters she was folding clothes at about 10 a.m. when she smelled smoke. She went to the living room and discovered that a lit candle had set a plastic plant ablaze, and the fire was quickly growing. Alexander, 67, tried to douse the flames with a pan of water, but it was too late. The flames by that time were raging out of control and quickly evolving into a raging inferno. She called 911 but hung up before she spoke with a dispatcher.
"The smoke became unbearable and she probably had to leave," Sandusky fire Chief Mike Meinzer said.
At about the same time, dispatchers received a flurry of 911 calls from neighbors reporting the fire at 531 Pierce St.
Jim Smith, who lives across the street from Alexander, was in his front yard when he saw smoke coming from Alexander's house.
"I started over there to make sure no one was in the house, and she came out with a phone in her hand," Smith said.
Firefighters arrived on the scene just as bright orange flames exploded out of the front windows of the ranch home.
"The main fire damage was contained to the living room, but there was extensive heat and smoke damage to the entire home," Meinzer said.
The fire created temperatures of 1,500 degrees, causing what is known as a flashover, he said.
Meinzer estimated $25,000 structural damage and another $15,000 in damages to the contents.
Alexander lived in the home with her daughter, Annette Germon, and Germon's 5-year-old daughter, Meinzer said. Neither Germon nor her daughter were home when the fire started.
Alexander received oxygen at the scene and was later taken to the hospital by her daughter, Meinzer said. Alexander did have renter's insurance.
Fire officials found a smoke detector in the home, but it did not have batteries.
Meinzer said when his department is called out to house fires investigators more and more often find smoke detectors are not equipped with batteries.