Spokane Valley family escapes house fire thanks to help from good Samaritan

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A Spokane Valley house fire Friday morning could have turned deadly had it not been for a good Samaritan's actions. Now, one of the people who lives in that home has a message for the stranger who helped make sure the terrifying morning didn't take a tragic turn. 

Travis Vosberg woke up to someone beating on his front door Friday morning. It wasn't the wake up call he expected, but his life depended on it. 

A stranger riding his bike by Vosberg's home on the 10200 block of E. Empire Way saw smoke coming from the roof and instead of continuing on with his ride, he stopped, and made sure everyone in the house knew what was happening.

"He said, it looks like your house is on fire," Vosberg said. 

Vosberg and his family were sleeping while the fire spread through the ceiling, right above one of Vosberg's son's bed. 

Luckily, all six people in the home were able to safely escape and all their pets, including a tortoise, cat and dog survived, too. 

"It was mostly just in that back room. They had to rip out the ceiling to get up into it and get it out," Vosberg said. "Just thank that guy for coming and beating on my door this morning, wake us all up. Who knows what could have happened."

Spokane Valley Fire Department investigators don't know what caused the fire but believe it may have started from an electrical problem with the radiant heat in the ceiling. That heating system is a common feature from around the time Vosberg's grandfather built the house. 

SVFD Community Risk Reduction Specialist Elysia Spencer said it's important all homeowners be aware of what kind of heating systems they have. 

"Does it have baseboard heating? Then we shouldn't have furniture up to it. If you have radiant heat from your ceiling, you shouldn't be screwing nails or hanging lights or anything like that from your ceiling. It might puncture a wire," Spencer said. 

Beyond that, Spencer said this is a great reminder to assess your smoke alarms. She said although Vosberg's home had some working smoke alarms, he should have had more for the size and layout of the home. That's a lesson anyone can learn from, according to Spencer. 

"Every home should have a smoke alarm inside of every single bedroom or sleeping area, out in the hallway adjacent to that sleeping area and then a minimum of one per floor," Spencer said. 

SVFD offers a free home fire safety visit program, where experts can assess your home safety and install smoke alarms.