PETERSBURG, Va (WTVR) – The sound of a smoke detector and then the smell of smoke woke a Petersburg couple out of bed.
But when they opened their bedroom door, flames lit their bedroom bright and the couple knew they had to escape.
Making a run, they went past their burning living room and out the side kitchen door.
It’s when they opened that outside door, that the rush of oxygen fueled the smouldering fire and it erupted inside the home, instantly blowing out all the windows and all but one door.
“When I opened up the door, I heard the windows bust, and like everything crackling and the windows, all the windows bust out and that was it,” says Keonya Toran from outside what is now their shell of a home.
“It was like a swoosh sound, then you could hear the windows breaking out, everything” says Preston McCray a few minutes later, looking back at the home he used to live in.
Fire investigators believe a cigarette is the blame and that it had smouldered sometime before the smoke detector sounded.
They also said, once the couple opened the bedroom door, they should have closed it and used a window to make their escape.
Running past the flames in the living room, even though they were crouched low to the floor, was too dangerous.
Just one breath of the smoke and gases can disorient someone almost instantaneously.
The couple lost their two dogs and pet turtles and didn’t have renters insurance.
But they both say, they are glad to be alive and thankful Keonya’s ten-year old son had spent the night with his grandmother.
An account has been established at any branch of Bank of McKenney. The fund will be used to help the two adults and the 10-year-old who lost everything in the fire.
Additionally, if you have items to donate, drop them off at Bethany Baptist Church at 613 E Wythe Street on Thursday and Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. (The woman wears a size 18 -20 and a shoe size nine-and-a-half. The man wears pants size 40 and shoe size eleven and a half.)