A house fire has left a mother and her son homeless, and it all started from a squirrels nest in the chimney. NBC12 spoke to the family. They're just grateful they made it out okay.
Neighbors noticed the flames coming from the home on Newbys Court, right off Walmsely Boulevard in Chesterfield. In fact, people were knocking on their door before they knew the home was on fire.
Renita Gray and her son spent most of the morning in the freezing rain after rushing out of their burning home. They can't thank their neighbors enough for knocking on their door the moment they saw flames shooting from the roof.
"I am so thankful for those people. It was almost like they were singing 'The Roof is on Fire.' I don't know if it was because of nosy neighbors or because they were driving past. I'm very grateful to them," said Gray.
Firefighters say the squirrels nest was lodged in the lower portion of the chimney between the pipe and the surrounding structure. Holes in the bottom show where they got in.
"It probably happens more than we know it and it's probably going on right now somewhere. Take a few minutes. If you've got the enclosure around your house, look around the bottom of it really good. If you have to get under the crawlspace, just make sure it's all intact to make sure nothing has gotten in there," said Battalion Chief, Mark Nugent.
Gray says she asked her landlord about a month ago to have her chimney cleaned. That never happened, but it could have prevented Saturday's disaster according to firefighters.
"Listen to your tenants when they tell you something's wrong. You know, don't fight it - fix it," Gray stressed.
While Gray is still frustrated, she and her son count their blessings for quick-witted neighbors.
"Thank you very much. I appreciate it. You actually probably saved our lives," Gray noted.
"I'm very thankful that we have great neighbors - that we have trusting firemen who can help is when we need them - just thankful I made it out alive," said Gray's son Jaron Walker.
For now, the Red Cross is helping the family. Firefighters say it's always a good idea to have your chimney cleaned at least once a year.
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