Local officer alerts firefighters to late-night blaze

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) The Waco Fire Department is investigating an overnight house fire.

(Photo by Rissa Shaw)

Crews responded to the 2700 block of Herring Ave. shortly after 12 a.m. Wednesday.

Flames were first spotted by Waco police Officer Sabrena Swanton who was on patrol in the area when she noticed a haze in front of the home and called in to report the fire.

"Then I saw kind of an orange glow and that's when I backed up all the way and ran up the driveway and saw the entire back half of the house was on fire," said Swanton.

Next, she says she ran inside to see if anyone needed help, but the home was vacant.

"I didn't know anyone wasn't inside and I wanted to make sure," said Swanton.

The two homes next door were evacuated as a precaution while crews put out the fire.

"I'm very proud of the work that all of our officers do and proud of the fact that we continually work hard, even on tough, stressful nights, to continue to protect life and property," said Acting Waco Police Chief Frank Gentsch.

No injuries were reported, however, a disabled resident fell out of her wheelchair while being evacuated.

"When they were rolling me down the hill, I hit a bump and fell out of the chair," said Helen Smith.

Smith, 66, said police officers helped her up, but it was her neighbors who made sure she got out.

"They were banging on my door and that's when I knew something had happened," said Smith.

She said her son had just left a few minutes before and she was watching TV when she heard banging so strong she thought someone was breaking in.

"I had a pipe beside my bed, so I was ready for them," she laughed.
"They watch out for me."

"We watch out for each other," she said. "We really do."

Waco fire officials are working to determine the cause, however, they said it appeared there was some remodeling being done to the home.

Lt. Riley Kilgo said nothing can be ruled out at this point, however.

Battalion Chief Patrick Kerwin said firefighters had the fire knocked out within about five minutes.

"The home is about 25% fire damaged," said Kerwin. "The rest was smoke and heat damage."