PALMDALE – A fire at a Palmdale home Wednesday morning could have ended in tragedy, but thanks to some quick thinking by a neighbor, a teenager and two dogs made it out safely.
The fire broke out at a two-story home on the 3800 block of West Tournament Drive and was reported around 8:46 a.m., according to Inspector Randall Wright of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Don Gockel, who lives less than a quarter of a mile away, said he noticed the smoke as he was pulling out of his driveway.
“I could see the smoke just rising down the street,” Gockel said. “I said to my wife, ‘something is burning.’”
Gockel said he headed toward the smoke and when he got to the home, he noticed its garage “fully engulfed in flames” as the fire moved toward the home. The garage door was open and a vehicle was in the driveway, so Gockel thought somebody could be inside the home.
“I started banging on the security door. I was yelling loud enough and banging loud enough for somebody to hear me,” Gockel said, adding that neighbors began coming outside. “My wife in the car called 9-1-1.”
After at least 30 seconds of banging, a teenager opened the front door, Gockel said.
“I just said, ‘you gotta get out,’” Gockel said. “I looked inside and I could see smoke on the downstairs ceiling and I could hear the smoke detectors. I said, ‘you have to get out.’”
Gockel said there were two small dogs inside the home. He herded them into a backyard and then handed them off to a next door neighbor for safekeeping.
Firefighters arrived to “smoke and fire coming from an attached garage” of a two-story family home, Inspector Wright said. Eighteen firefighters had the fire “knocked down” at approximately 8:54 a.m., according to Wright. Investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the fire Wednesday afternoon and did not have an estimate of damages, the fire inspector said. No injuries were reported.
Gockel said the boy’s mother called him about an hour after the incident. She said her son had been sound asleep in an upstairs room and had not been aware of the smoke alarms going off inside the home, according to Gockel.
“Had [the fire] gone another five minutes at the rate that it was going, it would have probably been impossible to come down from the second story,” Gockel said.
Asked why he decided to intervene, Gockel said: “Because that’s what I would want somebody to do for me.”