WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Next time your kid smells smoke, listen up. A curious six-year-old helped evacuate his sleeping familyon President's Day, as flames swept through two homes next door.
The damage to two on-base homes at Joint Base Anacastia-Bolling was catastrophic. But miraculously no one hurt. "I woke up in the morning, and I smelled smoke," says little Chase Van Epps who looked out to see flames just outside his window.
"I was like, oh, go back to sleep," says his mom Jamie.
But likemany six year olds, Chase refused to be ignored. "I was just looking right there, and I saw everything bursting," he says,pointing to the burnedwreckage of his neighbor's home.
"So that's when I got up and saw smoke just rolling from the neighbors house," says mom.
While Chase was waking his family, two doors down Ebony Triplet was rushing through her burning home to get her baby and her two toddlers. "My daughter started screaming, and I ran to her room and the back window broke out and there's fire and flames coming in it."
Ebony says she didn't even have time to grab any clothes. "I ran out the house naked, with both my babies."
The flames ripped right through two homes, and damaged three more. "It just got engulfed in no time whatsoever," says Byron Triplet.
The Triplet's lost almost everything in the military housing where they've lived for about a year and a half, but the Red Cross is helping and so is the Navy. "Be happy to be alive and cherish what you got, because it can be gone," says Byron.
Investigators are still trying to pinpoint the cause, but they suspect the blaze might have started with embers left behind in a barbecue the night before. The high winds may have blown sparks into the vinyl siding and the blaze just took off from there. Thankfully, a quick witted young boy helped get people out. "I want to be a fireman," says Chase, when asked what he wants to be when he grows up..
"Believe your children," says Jamie Van Epps. "When they smell smoke, check it out."
Maybe Chase will grow up to save even more lives.
The Navy is putting the families up at the Navy Lodge for now, and looking to find them a new home on base soon.
Investigators are still trying to figure out why the blaze spread so quickly and with so little warning.