Central Texas family with no sense of smell from COVID-19 safely escapes house fire, officials say

A 17-year-old teen was able to smell the smoke and get the family out safely

WACO, Texas – A Central Texas family battling the coronavirus is safe after their home caught fire, even though most of the family members couldn’t smell the smoke, according to a report from KWTX-TV.

The fire happened in Waco, Texas on Friday morning at a home in the 200 block of Joey Drive.

Three of the family members are battling COVID-19 and lost their sense of smell. But, a fourth family member, Bianca Rivera, 17, was still able to smell the smoke, and got her family out safely, KWTX-TV reports.

Rivera said in an interview that she smelled burnt plastic around 2 a.m. and that’s when she new something was wrong.

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

Rivera said she was determined to get her family out safely as quick as possible, and she doesn’t consider herself a hero.

“I just wanted to get everyone else safe and alive. That’s all I wanted that’s all I wanted was to keep everyone alive. I don’t really count myself a hero,” she told KWTX-TV.

Waco firefighters said Rivera was also able to save the family’s four dogs from the flames. However, the home was completely destroyed, as was the family’s belongings.

The Waco Fire Department said in part on social media that the family is “lucky to be alive” after the fire.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been released as of yet.

KWTX-TV said the Red Cross is assisting the family in finding housing and as they recover from COVID-19.

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About the Author:

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for NewsChannel 20 in Springfield, Illinois.