Hearing one's daughter yell, "Mom, fire!" is not a very pleasant way to start the week.
However, that's exactly the wake-up call Cassie Frank heard Monday while her 17-year-old daughter was getting ready for school.
After finishing her shower, Anndrea came back downstairs and noticed a haze around the lights of the family's two-story house on Self Street off the Sterling Highway at Mile 85.
She opened the door to the closet containing the hot water heater and saw flames.
Mom, Cassie, threw on some shoes and ran outside to immediately shut off the propane to the heater while Anndrea called 911.
"I came back in and started putting water on the fire," the elder Frank said.
Using bowls and buckets, she managed to get the flames out, but she could still hear the fire crackling inside the walls.
When Central Emergency Services firefighters arrived from the Sterling station nine minutes after receiving the call at 6:42 a.m., they tore into the walls and ceiling and managed to get the fire completely out by 6:55.
Mother and daughter suffered minor smoke inhalation and damage was limited to $3,500 to the structure and its contents, according to Fire Marshal Gary Hale.
An 8-year-old daughter asleep in the house when the fire started, was unharmed.
Cassie Frank said she and her husband, Darrin, had talked about getting a new water heater Sunday after they noticed a "funny smell" coming from it.
Before Darrin left town Sunday, he asked his wife to look into getting a replacement, she said, adding the hot water heater was about 10 years old.
Cassie said she and her husband began building the house 10 years ago and finished three years ago.
The family has insurance and the mother and daughters will stay in a hotel for a few days until the damage is repaired.
CES responded with 21 firefighters, one fire engine, four tankers, one ladder truck and one medic unit.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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