Neighbor Larry Chiaro alerts Arevalo family to fire in Dulles Street home

Arevalo slept through ringing smoke detectors

SAN ANTONIO - Jorge and Valentina Arevalo said they owe their lives to next door neighbor Larry Chiaro who alerted them to a fire inside their Dulles Street home Thursday morning.

The Arevalos said they were fast asleep, along with their 4-year-old grandson, inside their far West side home when they heard a pounding on their front door around 5:30 a.m.

Jorge Arevalo went to answer it and found his neighbor, Larry Chiaro, telling him to get out.

"We probably would've been dead by now,” said Jorge Arevalo. "I just thank him very much. Thank God that he was up, awake early in the morning, saw the smoke and got us out of there."

The couple said had it not been for Chiaro -- who happened to be out for his morning jog -- they would’ve continued sleeping, even though their smoke detectors were sounding loudly.

Chiaro’s wife, Susan, said she and her husband heard a series of loud bangs just before noticing the fire coming from the garage next door.

"(Larry) ran in and told me, 'Call 911, 'cause I think there's a fire. There's smoke coming out of the neighbor's yard,'" she said. “He goes, 'I'm going to go wake them up because I don't think they're up yet.' "The whole thing just started blowing up. You could see the flames coming out the side of the garage."

The Arrevalos and their grandson managed to make it out safely, along with their dogs. A pet bird, however, died in the fire.

"She's taking it pretty hard,” said Pat Espinoza, Valentina Arevalo’s sister. “There's a lot of memories in there and all her clothes and all her things."

Espinoza was one of about a dozen extended family members who rushed to the scene after the fire. Later that morning, they all stood around on the couple’s front lawn, wondering how best to help them.

"We're all going to pitch in and we told her we'll help her any way we can," Espinoza said.

While the family took stock of all they lost, they also took time to remember what was saved -- specifically, their lives.

Firefighters said it appears the fire was accidental and started in the garage. It apparently burned so intensely that it sent an aerosol can through the wall of the garage.

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