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Colorado Daily: Superior girl, 13, credited with saving life of sister in blaze

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SUPERIOR — A 13-year-old girl likely saved the life of her little sister on Thursday after a fire — which destroyed three Rock Creek condos and damaged several others — filled their unit with smoke and flames, officials and neighbors said.

“We are very, very proud of her,” Hadi

Hashmi said of his teenage daughter, Heraa. “She took care of her sister.”

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Heraa was babysitting 2-year-old Nabiha just after 2 p.m. when the fire broke out in an adjacent unit at the Summit Condominiums, located at 2855 Rock Creek Circle.

Witnesses said the flames spread quickly, engulfing the six-unit building in a ball of fire and filling it with smoke that sent the two girls and one firefighter to a hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

At least 40 firefighters and 10 engines from 12 agencies worked for three hours to bring the blaze under control, said Boulder County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Rick Brough.

A total of 18 condos in three buildings were evacuated during the blaze. At least 15 people who live in the burned building were displaced for the night.

Hashmi, who works at Level 3 Communications, said Heraa heard the smoke alarm start beeping, grabbed her sister, then called 911 and ran outside. She called her parents from outside the home.

The girls were taken to Avista Adventist Hospital and released several hours later.

Hashmi said both girls, who are home-schooled and were left alone for a short time on Thursday, are doing “perfectly OK.” He said he has no idea how the fire started.

He said he assumed it was a minor fire until he headed home and saw the smoke, which was visible for miles around Superior as it billowed from the roof of the two-story building.

He said Heraa did everything right.

“She is very grown-up, and we are very proud of her,” he said.

Other residents were also lucky to have escaped the fast-moving flames, officials said.

Paul Olkowski, 59, who has lived at the complex for 10 years, sat barefoot outside his condo for more than an hour on Thursday, watching it burn. He said he was taking a nap when a fire alarm woke him up.

“I looked outside and saw my fence in the back engulfed in flames,” he said.

Olkowski said he looked for his cat, but couldn’t find it before he needed to run from the home. Visibly distraught, Olkowski said he didn’t know whether the animal survived.

Andrea Golod, 34, has lived in the building since 2005. She said she was at home with her 16-month-old son, Jacob, uploading photos on her computer when someone pounded on her door.

“He told me the building was on fire,” Golod said.

She said she normally doesn’t answer the door during the day, but she heard repeated knocks on doors throughout the building. She said the man, a maintenance worker for the condos, “is the most awesome person in the world right now.”

The warning gave her time to grab her son and get out of the building safely, she said.

The mother and son were standing outside about two hours after the fire began, watching firefighters climb through the window of Jacob’s bedroom to tear out the ceiling where flames had spread through the roof.

“This is your worst nightmare,” Golod said.

Oblivious to the damage, though, Jacob seemed excited to see the fire trucks more than anything.

“He’s diggin’ it,” Golod said.

Of her belongings inside the building, Golod said she was primarily concerned about a hard drive that contains her only copies of photos of her son.

“Everything else can go,” she said with tears in her eyes. “Just not his first pictures.”

One firefighter was taken by ambulance to Avista as a precaution after complaining of discomfort from the heat and smoke.

The fire was so hot at one point that radiant heat melted four windows in a building near the flames. Sheriff’s officials said the Summit Condos don’t have sprinkler systems, and they aren’t required to because they were built before the building code required them.

Three condos were destroyed in the blaze, and three sustained serious damage. None of those residents — at least 15 people — have been allowed to return home.

Michelle Kelly, a battalion chief with Rocky Mountain Fire District, said residents in the two buildings nearest the burned condos were allowed to return home Thursday night. Some of those units had broken windows or smoke and heat damage to curtains, she said.

Kelly said some people in those units had their windows boarded up and decided to stay at home, while others went to hotels.

The Red Cross set up an emergency shelter at Eldorado K-8 School, 3351 S. Indiana St., for evacuees.

Firefighters were at the scene mopping up the water and debris left by the fire until after 9 p.m. A multi-agency fire investigation team plans to visit the site Friday morning to begin an investigation into the cause of the blaze.

Several neighbors and passers-by said they think the flames were sped up by propane bottles that were attached to grills on front porches.

“That’s what really got it going,” said Rock Creek resident Matt Lowry, who described seeing a propane tank send a jet of fire into the air.

Read more:http://www.coloradodaily.com/ci_15902966?source=most_viewed#ixzz0y6wqokS8
Coloradodaily.com

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Muslim American born in Brooklyn, NY with Guyanese parents currently living in Virginia working full-time as a web developer.

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