Paper carrier alerts sleeping Springfield homeowners to early morning fire

A Springfield fire destroyed a single-family house Tuesday morning and a cigarette butt is expected to be identified as the cause of the flames.

The Springfield Fire/Rescue Division responded to the fire at a home on the 100 block of Lawnview Avenue at around 3 a.m., according to initial reports. There were two people — a man and a woman — inside the house during the fire and both were safely evacuated, fire officials at the scene told the Springfield News-Sun.

The fire started toward the front of the house, fire officials said, and no injuries were reported at the scene. And perhaps one of the major reasons why no one was hurt Tuesday morning was because of the actions of a Springfield News-Sun newspaper carrier.

Josh Barker, who has been delivering papers since 2008, said he was running his route when he noticed the house on fire.

“I was delivering newspapers and I pulled up and saw the house on fire,” Barker said. “I pulled up and dialed 9-1-1 and while I was on the phone I kept thinking people were still in the house.”

He said he noticed vehicles outside the home and it seemed like people were still inside.

“I said I am not going to leave people in the house,” he said. “I can’t let somebody die.”

He said despite warnings from a 911 dispatcher, he started to bang on the door and kept yelling and screaming.

“They came out, they didn’t know their house was on fire and they were able to get them out.”

Barker said the couple was sleeping inside and didn’t notice there house was on fire. He also said that a cat was saved from the flames, too.

“Something kept telling me I needed to go in there,” Barker said. “There are people in the house I need to wake them up. I thank God I was there and I was able to obey.”

He said the homeowners were appreciative and thanked him several times.

“The cause was the careless disposal of smoking materials,” a Facebook post by the fire division said early Tuesday. “If you must smoke, make sure the items are completely out, and then still leave them in a noncombustible container, such as a sand bucket.”

The post said crews arrived and saw the porch roof had already collapsed and the fire was moving quickly. Fire officials worked quickly to contain the flames, the post states, and was able to knock down the fire enough before it took over the entire house.

“A search by Rescue One showed the house to be all clear,” the post states. “The occupants had, in fact, escaped prior to our arrival.”

The Springfield News-Sun has requested the 9-1-1 calls. A Springfield Fire Marshal told the News-Sun the actions were not documented on the fire report.

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