One man is dead after a house in North Austin was destroyed by fire early Thursday morning.
The call came in about 2:25 a.m. for a two-alarm house fire on Kellie’s Farms Lane near MoPac and Scofield Ridge Parkway.
Crews arrived within four minutes, and at that time, heavy fire was coming from the second story. Four people lived in the two-story home. Investigators are working to determine why three people were able to exit the house safely and one did not.
Neighbor Irma Gonzales awoke to the sound of a boom and noticed a bright light shining through the blinds. She was able to get her family out of the house and call for help.
“[The dispatcher] was like, ‘Is everybody there?’ I said, ‘I don't know. I don't know, but I hear somebody saying there's somebody in there.’ I said, ‘Hurry, hurry, hurry, the flames are so huge,’" she said.
The man’s body was discovered in the home just after 8 a.m. Now, the Austin Fire Department is also working with Austin police to determine both the cause of death and the cause of the fire, as is standard procedure when someone dies of unnatural causes.
This is Austin’s sixth fire fatality of the year, and the first where the residence had a working smoke detector. He credits the detector for helping the three residents get out safely.
“The importance of working smoking detectors cannot be underestimated,” Batt. Chief Palmer Buck said. “Even though we had a working smoke detector here, the previous five fatalities did not. It really does dramatically increase your chances for survival to have a working smoke detector, and we can’t say that enough.”
Investigators say the home is a total loss. The houses on each side also suffered damage. Lack of rainfall, dry grasses and gusty winds could have been contributing factors to the blaze.
There is a Red Flag Warning in effect until 3 p.m. Thursday, meaning the Central Texas area is under an extreme fire risk.