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Fairfax County firefighters save life of girl as 'flames, smoke and soot' engulf her home

The young girl was found safe in her bedroom behind a closed door.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — A young girl was found in her bedroom behind a closed door as flames, smoke and soot engulfed her home. Fairfax County firefighters saved her life.

The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute co-costed a screening of dispatch and helmet camera footage of the rescue in honor of Fire Prevention Week, which runs Oct. 6 to 12. The footage illustrates the "life-saving difference a closed door can make during a house fire," a press release said.

Vincent Harrison, a Fairfax County Firefighter, shared his firsthand account of the rescue. 

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"Upon arriving, we make entry and we find the seed of the fire," Harrison said. "As soon as we get in there, we see the flames rolling over our heads. And this fire was pretty unique because it was not too far away from where the victim was."

But as soon as the firefighters attacked the fire, they heard a girl knocking on her bedroom door, screaming for help. 

"Once we got to the door we opened it up and saw that the room was completely clean -- to our amazement completely clean," Harrison said. "No fire damage, no smoke damage, no soot -- there was no soot on her face. She was able to breathe freely, and we grabbed her and took her outside."

Steve Kerber, director of the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute, said the Close Before You Doze campaign aims to bring awareness to the science behind fire needing oxygen to grow.

"We've been studying fire for more than 10 years, and one of the things that continually stands out is that fire grows really fast and people need any bit of help they can get to get out safely," Kerber said.

Kerber said the Close Before You Doze campaign is a "free thing that you can do that can buy you that valuable time that could possibly save your life."

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"The science behind the closed door message is that fire needs oxygen to grow, and fire also wants to spread to whatever's open," Kerber said. "So if you can get that closed door between you and the fire, it can stop the heat, stop the smoke, give you a little more time in a clean environment to figure out, 'How can I get out? Can I go out a window? Check the door. Can I get out that way?' And it's going to buy you that valuable time, and if you can't get out, that's the time the fire department needs to be able to get to you."

Harrison said the young girl who was saved from the fire helped save herself.

"Because she closed that door, she saved her life, really," Harrison said. "She bought time enough for us to get there and remained unscathed because of it."

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