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Seven with COVID-19 owe lives to woman, 20, who smelled smoke from early-morning fire

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 1:03 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2021 at 9:56 AM EST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Seven members of an extended Waco family who have COVID-19 and have lost their sense of smell escaped safely from their burning home early Friday thanks to a fourth family member, a 20-year-old woman, who doesn’t have the virus and was able to smell the smoke.

The fire broke out at around 2 a.m. Friday in the home at 2200 Joey Dr. in Waco.

Bianca Rivera smelled the smoke and was able to alert the other three family members in time for all four to escape safely.

“I don’t really count myself as a hero,” she said.

“I would just do whatever anyone else would do for their own family I just wanted to get everyone else safe and alive that’s all I wanted that’s all I wanted was to keep everyone alive”

Flames had engulfed the house by the time the first Waco firefighters arrived.

Rivera said she smelled something burning at around 2 a.m.

“I started smelling burnt plastic and that’s when I got more alert and ran outside of my room and I couldn’t even pass the hallway because it was filled with so much smoke,” she said.

“I knew I had to wake everyone up.”

“I opened the back door and I got everyone out one by one,” she said.

Rivera also got the family’s four dogs out of the house and to safety.

“Honestly it was just me protecting my family and getting them to save it didn’t matter to me if I was going to get hurt or I was going to get burned as long as I got them out safe and sound I was going to be fine,” she said.

The family members escaped with only the clothes on their backs, she said.

She said her grandparents gathered clothing and shoes for them.

The Red Cross is assisting the family.

“Right now we are renting a motel room we are trying to find a residence at the moment,” she said.

Three children and seven adults shared the home.

Two of the adults were at work when the fire started.

Further details weren’t immediately available.

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