Eight reportedly displaced after structure fire in Cedar City, officers help woman escape blaze

Posted at 7:05 PM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-07 21:05:45-05

CEDAR CITY, Utah — Eight people were displaced after a fire in Cedar City Wednesday night, and one woman is thanking officers for their efforts to help her escape from the burning residence.

St. George News reports that eight of the seven displaced residents are students at Southern Utah University and that a fire broke out in an attached garage Wednesday night.

Several windows in the structure, which consists of several separate units, broke due to the heat, but police officers responding to the scene broke out some of the others to try to help one woman to safety.

Gina O’Neal told St. George News about her ordeal.

“I think I was sleeping downstairs,” she told St. George News. “And, I just heard windows breaking and somebody yelling at me to get out — and then I had to run through the garage where the fire was to get out.”

The only exit was through the garage, which was already full of smoke. Unable to see through the smoke, O’Neal said she was terrified to run through and even briefly went back downstairs to see about climbing through a window.

However, the officers on scene assisted her through the smoke and gave her the courage she needed to make her break for safety. O’Neal said she closed her eyes and listened to the voices of the police as she ran, and she made it safely outside.

O’Neal and several others were treated on the scene for smoke inhalation, but none of the residents required medical transport.

St. George News also reports that smoke detectors were key in helping the other residents escape safely, and those detectors were installed last year at the insistence of one of the residents.

“When we moved in, just a year ago, I actually had to tell the previous landlords to install smoke detectors in our unit because there weren’t any,” resident Marshal Macri said, adding that his father is a firefighter in Chicago who taught him about the importance of fire safety.

Click here for more on this story and additional photos from St. George News.