3 with COVID-19 owe lives to girl who smelled smoke from early-morning fire

3 with COVID-19 owe lives to girl, 17, who smelled smoke from early-morning fire

WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Three members of a family who have lost their sense of smell because of COVID-19 escaped safely from their burning home early Friday thanks to a fourth family member, who doesn’t have the virus and was able to smell the smoke.

The fire broke out at around 2 a.m. on Friday in the home at 2200 Joey Dr. in Waco.

Bianca Rivera, 17, smelled the smoke and was able to alert the other three family members in time for all four to escape safely.

“I don’t really count myself as a hero,” she said. “I would just do whatever anyone else would do for their own family. I just wanted to get everyone else safe and alive. That’s all I wanted was to keep everyone alive”

Rivera said she smelled something burning.

“I started smelling burnt plastic and that’s when I got more alert and ran outside of my room and I couldn’t even pass the hallway because it was filled with so much smoke,” she said.

Flames had engulfed the house by the time the first firefighters arrived.

“I knew I had to wake everyone up,” she said. “I opened the back door and I got everyone out one by one.”

Rivera also got the family’s four dogs out of the house and to safety.

“ It didn’t matter to me if I was going to get hurt or I was going to get burned. As long as I got them out safe and sound I was going to be fine,” she said.

Rivera said the family members escaped with only the clothes on their backs. Her grandparents gathered clothing and shoes for them.

“Right now we are renting a motel room we are trying to find a residence at the moment,” she said.

The Red Cross is assisting the family.

Copyright 2021 KWTX via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.