Nine-year-old Abigail Mangar learned in school to call 911 when you see smoke.
Lt. TJ Dercole, an arson investigator with the Schenectady Fire Department, recently visited Keane Elementary School to teach students about fire safety, and Abigail said Dercole is the one who taught her to call 911 in case of an emergency.
She saw Dercole again today, after she called 911 to report a fire at her home at 53 Waldorf Place.
Schenectady firefighters got the fire under control in less than 15 minutes thanks to Abigail, Schenectady Fire Chief Ray Senecal said.
“He taught me to call 911,” Abigail said of Dercole while on the front porch of her neighbor’s house after talking with the investigator about what she saw. “I tried to call my uncle and then called the emergency number. I was kind of scared. I live in that house.”
Abigail was watching television this afternoon while her mother, Ramona, was cooking dinner in the kitchen. That’s when Abigail saw smoke, called 911 and evacuated their apartment, which is on the second floor of a two-story home at Waldorf Place.
“I saw the smoke coming from the back of the apartment, and my mother told me to go out of the house and get help,” Abigail said as firefighters entered her home to put out the fire.
While holding a cellphone, Abigail looked down and said she called 911 while leaving the house with her mom.
“They said, ‘How may I help you?’ And I said there was smoke coming from the house,” she said.
Senecal said the fire started around 3:25 p.m. on the first floor, which was unoccupied at the time. Abigail and Ramona Mangar were the only people in the house on the second floor.
The cause of the fire is unclear. It does not appear to be suspicious at this time, Senecal said.
Senecal said the fact that Schenectady firefighters got the fire under control quickly was fortunate given the heavy winds that picked up in the afternoon.
One firefighter suffered a minor shoulder injury and was treated at Ellis Hospital, he said.
Early reports of the fire said a child was trapped on the second floor of the building, Senecal said. But he said firefighters were dispatched based on Abigail’s phone call to the Unified Communications Center.
Abigail and her mother were staying at a neighbor’s house this evening as firefighters remained on the scene in the afternoon.
The house is rebuildable, Senecal said. The first floor sustained fire, smoke and water damage, and the second floor has smoke damage.
“It was a working fire on the first floor of the house, and smoke traveled throughout the building,” Senecal said. “They were in direct danger. They are lucky it didn’t spread faster.”
Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.