Hero Boy Wakes Up "Very Lucky" Family in House Fire

The boy, sleeping in an upstairs bedroom, smelled smoke and raced to wake up his family members

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Niccolo Owens, 8, describes what he did after smelling smoke coming from a family bedroom. Toni Guinyard reports for the NBC4 News at 11 a.m. on Wednesday Feb. 19, 2014.

    An 8-year-old boy -- specifically, his nose -- is credited with waking family members early Wednesday after a fire broke out on the second floor of a house that was not equipped with working smoke detectors.

    Firefighters just finished battling a commercial building fire in Pico Rivera early Wednesday when they were called to the house fire at about 4:30 a.m. about five miles away in Whittier.

    Six people escaped the house fire, possibly caused by an overloaded electrical outlet in a bedroom, thanks to an 8-year-old boy who woke up and began yelling, "fire, fire," after smelling smoke, according to Los Angeles County Fire officials.

    Fire Captain Credits Boy's Nose

    [LA] Fire Captain Credits Boy's Nose With Saving Family
    The odor of smoke wakes up an 8-year-old boy during a Whittier fire. Toni Guinyard reports for Today in LA on Wednesday Feb. 19, 2014.

    "It was right by my uncle, right by it in his bed," said Niccolo Owens. "I said, 'Uncle, get up. Fire! Fire!'"

    No one inside the house reported hearing smoke detector alarms, fire officials said. The house had at least one detector, located at the top of the stairs to the second floor.

    "The family is actually very lucky," said Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Brian Jordan. "The 8-year-old smelled the smoke, woke up and started the wake-up process for everyone in the home.

    "Fortunately, the 8-year-old's nose transmitted information to the brain to wake him up. Normally, smoke actually gets to your nose and renders you unconscious while you sleep."

    There were no reports of injuries.

    "People die from not having working smoke detectors," Jordan said.

    The boy told his parents that the bed started on fire, authorities said. The boy and another child under 10 escaped with two adult males and two adult females.

    The commercial building fire in Pico Rivera burned a building between an apartment complex and small motel. No injuries were reported.

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