Neighbors credited with rescue of family of five after fire engulfs residence

Posted at 7:20 PM, Sep 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-05 08:54:31-04

ST GEORGE, Utah - A father and his four children are without a home after an electrical fire burnt everything they own, and firefighters said the quick action of neighbors likely saved their lives.

The fire broke out around 12:15 Thursday morning. Sergio Quiroz and his four children were all asleep when it happened. It was the neighbors dog who barked and woke up neighbors, who in turn got the family out.

“I quickly called for dispatch,” Brandon Arellano said. “That’s when we realize our neighbor’s car is still here. My dad runs to their front door and starts knocking, yelling for our neighbor to see if he’s still in there.”

Arellano and his father pulled Quiroz and his children from the burning house while smoke billowed out around them.

“There was so much smoke, and so much fire in the first room,” says Quiroz, recalling how quickly the fire spread.

He said by the time they got out to the street, the entire home was engulfed in flames.

“We had to evacuate our house as well,” Arellano said. “But our first worry was definitely them.”

It took firefighters about 30 minutes to knock down the flames, but St. George Fire Department Chief Robert Stoker said the house is a complete loss. The American Red Cross is assisting Quiroz with food and temporary shelter, but says their situation is far worse, because that home was all the had.

“He feels very alone,” said Disaster Services Program Manager Paul Dunsdon. “There’s not a lot of resources available to him. He doesn’t have family here.”

Firefighters are still investigating the cause, but Stoker said at this point it appears to be electrical. Quiroz said he tripped a breaker on Wednesday doing some home repairs, and his daughter thought she saw sparks in a back closet, but they weren’t able to find a problem at that time. Mostly Quiroz said he’s trying to keep a positive attitude.

“I’m a little sad,” Quiroz said. “But I’m happy that my children are alright.”

Stoker estimates the damage at around $80,000. He said the home didn’t have smoke detectors installed.