LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Seven people lost their home after a small chimney fire bloomed into an all-out house fire early Monday morning.
And firefighters say the cause was easily preventable.
What was supposed to be a cozy night by the fireplace turned into this a disaster for Kevin Kochon and his six roommates.
"All of a sudden one of our roommates just started yelling, 'We got a problem! We got a problem!'" Kochon said.
The problem was smoke billowing from the fireplace and flames shooting from the chimney.
Lafayette Battalion Chief Mike Hieatt says they arrived at the house around 1:30 a.m. on Holloway Drive in Lafayette.
He says while it took crews only about 15 minutes to get the fire under control, the fire could have been prevented all together.
The culprit? Firefighters say it was a dirty chimney.
"You should have your chimneys checked yearly and cleaned, and make sure they're safe before you use them every year," Chief Hieatt said. "This easily could have been tragic this time of night. If everybody was asleep or something, it could have spread to the rest of the house and could have blocked their exits. It could have turned out very badly."
Hieatt says in this case, everyone made it out safely.
He says aside from a good chimney cleaning, this time of year is also a good time to double check your fire alarms.
Which, in this case, Kochon says, never made a sound.
"There was one fire alarm right by the attic opening," Kochon said. "There was a lot of smoke coming out and that alarm didn't go off for some reason."
Kochon says he and his roommates have been living in the house only about two months, and says he didn't check the fire alarm batteries after moving in.
But now, he says he'll make that – and a clean chimney – his top priority.
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