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JFRD: 2 escape house fire in NW Jacksonville

Family homeless after fire blazes through two-story home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville family is homeless at Christmas after a fast-moving fire blazed through a Northwest Jacksonville home Monday morning.

The fire started around 10:15 a.m. at a two-story home at 7564 Warbler Road, just west of Old Kings Road North.

Two people were inside at the time -- a 16-year-old girl and her cousin -- but they were able to escape without any injuries.

The teenager said she is extremely upset but relieved she and her family are all OK.
 
"I was in the room watching TV and I smelled something burning," 16-year-old Alexus Sibley said. "That's what made me get up. I was asleep, and I smelled it, and I got up, and it was a small fire to begin with."
 
Sibley said she tried to put out the fire herself by throwing water on it, but it was just too dangerous. 
 
"The sofa started burning, and then it went up to the ceiling and that's when I ran out of the house," Sibley said.
 
Her grandparents have owned the home for nearly 30 years, and she was staying there for the holidays. She said she didn't even know her cousin was upstairs asleep. Her screaming is what woke him up.
 
"It still scares me a little bit, because I didn't know he was there," she said. "And if he hadn't heard me, anything could have happened. I'm just glad I got out."  

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Firefighters said the flames were difficult to put out. Power lines down in the front of the home were an obstacle. The fire started downstairs but spread quickly to the upstairs. Crews discovered there was a 4-foot hole in the stairwell, which kept them from getting upstairs, but they found other ways to attack the fire.
 
"Interior crews physically pushed through walls to get through to get to the fire, while ground ladders were set up for exterior crews to approach the second floor in that fashion," said JFRD spokesman Tom Francis.
 
The Red Cross is helping Sibley and her family get back on their feet. As traumatic as this experience was for her, she said she is happy she was home instead of her grandparents.
 
"They could have had an anxiety attack. Anything could have happened, because it happened so quickly. I'm just glad they weren't here," she said. "Since it's getting so close to the holidays, we're just gonna pray about it and hopefully things will get better."
 
JFRD officials said the family told them the fire likely started from an electrical cord the family has had problems with in the past, but everything is under investigation by the state fire marshal.