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Boy, 3, alerts his parentsto fire

By Laura Gossman

lgossman@postbulletin.com

STEWARTVILLE — The howling overnight winds had roused 5-year-old Skylar Schaefer early Tuesday morning from her bunk in the back bedroom of the family’s mobile home.

So Skylar’s mother, Rikki-Lynn Buenvenida, thought that her 3-year-old son, Ethan Schaefer, was having an equally restless night when he woke up at 1:30 a.m., saying he was feeling hot.

"He woke up screaming, saying, ‘There’s something wrong with my room,’" Buenvenida said. "I just told him it was the wind."

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Then she got up and looked.

"When I got up and looked down the hallway, there was an orange glow coming from their room," Buenvenida said.

A mattress and wall were on fire.

She said she went into shock and just froze. But the children’s father, Bill Schaefer, ran into the room and carried them out to safety. Schaefer went back in and dumped buckets of water on the fire, which had spread up the wall.

Authorities are still piecing together the details, but believe that an electrical outlet next to the children’s beds malfunctioned, sparking the fire.

Buenvenida said the outlet had melted, and the mattress that her son had been sleeping on was on fire.

There wasn’t a smoke alarm in the bedroom and others in the home were missing their batteries.

"We’re in total regret for not having a smoke detector," Buenvenida said.

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Both Schaefer and Buenvenida said there wasn’t a lot of smoke.

"I thought the trailer was going to be gone before the fire department could get there," Buenvenida said.

Wires in the wall were still burning when the Stewartville Fire Department arrived, but the fire was quickly put out with minimal damage to the home. Schaefer planned to start making repairs to the wall Tuesday.

As for smoke detectors, Buenvenida said, "We’re going to make sure we have one in every room."

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