Dallas

Teacher Praised for Alerting Family About Fire Next Door

The J.J. Pierce High School biology teacher was heading to work a lot earlier than usual when she saw the plume of smoke

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A North Texas teacher is being praised for alerting and helping a family of four to safety as their neighbor’s house went up in flames.

The house fire happened early Wednesday morning in the 7900 block of Briaridge Road in far North Dallas.

The fire left a male resident and a firefighter injured and claimed the life of a woman.

The melted siding above Brooke Lepisto’s bedroom shows just how close tragedy came to her doorstep.

“We didn’t smell smoke. We didn’t hear anything,” said Lepisto of the fire next door.

The mother of two says she was up with her 10-month-old and three-year-old at around 6:45 a.m. on Wednesday.

Her husband was in the shower when she got a phone call, security alarm notification and loud banging on her door.

“It’s this woman I’ve never seen before saying, 'Your neighbor’s house is on fire. You need to get out,'" she said.

Erin Anderson happened to be driving along Coit Road.

The J.J. Pierce High School biology teacher was heading to work a lot earlier than usual when she saw the plume of smoke billowing from the neighborhood on the left.

“As I passed, I looked to the left and there was nobody outside and this house was fully engulfed,” said Anderson.

Anderson immediately turned around, rushed onto Briaridge Rd. and ran to the house next to the one on fire.

“I ran and banged on the door. I’m sure I scared them to death,” she said.

The good Samaritan even carried Lepisto’s baby as the rest of the family ran to safety.

Neighbors began to emerge and huddled together watching firefighters arrive and begin to fight the flames.

Dallas Fire Rescue’s spokesman says firefighters were informed a woman was believed to be in the house.

Despite their effort, the victim’s body was found after the fire was extinguished.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office has not been able to notify the woman’s family. Her name is not being released at this time.

A firefighter became trapped during the firefight but was quickly pulled to safety and suffered only smoke inhalation, according to DFR.

Neighbors tell NBC 5, a man in his 60s who lives in the house was able to run next door for help.

The man suffered burn injuries and was taken to a hospital.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

It is listed as ‘underdetermined’ until the medical examiner determines the woman’s cause of death, according to DFR.

Toxicology tests are also pending, according to the ME’s office.

“It’s such a tragic situation,” said Lepisto who is expressing gratitude for firefighters and the stranger who showed up at her door.

Her toddler even sent Anderson a quick video message saying: “Thank you, Ms. Erin.”

“It was so precious. It absolutely made my day,” said Anderson. “I’m a mother of five. I would hope that if my neighbor’s house is on fire somebody would come and let me know. I just did what any mom would do. You protect families.”

Lepisto encourages everyone to look out for each other.

“Go above and beyond because you never know what impact your simple gesture can have on somebody else’s life,” she said. “It could save a life.”

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