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ADT employee, first responders credited with saving South Fayette family's home

ADT employee, first responders credited with saving South Fayette family's home
ADT employee, first responders credited with saving South Fayette family's home 02:50

SOUTH FAYETTE, Pa. (KDKA) - Quick actions by first responders may have saved a local family's home from a fire in January.

The Oak Ridge fire chief said a candle caused a home on Gromwell Lane in South Fayette Township to catch on fire in the family's basement.

But what happened moments after it caught on fire may have saved their lives.

"I hear your alarm is activating. Are you safe? Are you ok?" asked Nachon Shebaniah Benn, an ADT agent.

Benn works for ADT in Texas. The company said a sensor went off in Phil and Anne Beck's home when Benn called to check on the family.

"Oh my God, I do smell something," Anne Beck said.

"I'll go ahead and notify the fire department," Benn said.

Moments later, Anne Beck said her husband went downstairs to investigate and found the basement full of smoke.

"My husband came down and the smoke was thick toward the ceiling. He went over to the outside door to open it to let the smoke out, turned and saw that a candle that was on the bar here -- there were flames that were probably up to here," Anne Beck said.

Beck said a candle was lit on their bar about 10 hours earlier, but they forgot to blow it out.

"It looked like a house, so it had a lid and the outside of it was made of wood, but the candle was inside of there," Beck said.

While Phil Beck used the extinguisher, Benn called 911 to send the fire department to their home.

The fire chief of the Oak Ridge Volunteer Fire Department said everything worked the way it should in an emergency.

"The smoke detectors went off. ADT notified 911. In turn, they got us rolling here. Quick thinking of Mr. Beck to take a fire extinguisher and put out the fire, waking these kids up. Everything worked," Chief Bill Supan said.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2015-2019, 7,400 structure fires were started by candles. The fires caused 90 deaths per year, 670 injuries and nearly $300 million in property damage.

Supan said they can be prevented by switching to battery-operated candles instead of real ones.

"If you're going to leave a room, don't leave a candle unattended. Please blow it out. Don't use candles where you sleep and if you go to use a candle, set it away from an object that could catch fire," Supan said.

"I immediately brought a garbage bag down and threw away all candles that were down here and other parts of the home as well so we learned our lesson," Anne Beck said.

On Thursday, three people were given an ADT Life Saver Award for their quick actions that day including Benn, the agent who called to warn the family that there may be a fire.

Benn traveled over 1,000 miles from Texas to meet the family for the very first time.

"It just makes me very grateful that they responded so quickly," Anne Beck said.

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